By Fort Sill Tribune staffAugust 8, 2019
FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Aug. 8, 2019) -- The three enlisted Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) for the Patriot missile system are the 14H Air Defense Enhanced Early Warning System Operator, the 14T Patriot Launching Station Enhanced Operator/Maintainer, and the 14E Patriot Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer.
They work closely together to eliminate tactical ballistic missile and aircraft threats. Inside an engagement control station (ECS) van, when the tactical control officer gives the authorization to fire, it's a 14E Soldier who launches the missile.
The 14E MOS is taught at an almost 20-week Advanced Individual Training course by instructors in B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery at Fort Sill.
It's one of the longer ADA courses because the Soldiers have to know a lot of different skills, said Lt. Col. Joseph Scott, 3-6th ADA commander. More than 30 14E AIT classes are taught each year here, and classes average about 16 students each.
The 14Es are responsible for four main components: the ECS, phased array radar, antennae mast group (AMG) for communications, and electric power plant (EPP), which powers all these. The Soldiers run the ECS, but also provide operator level maintenance to the radar, AMG, and EPP, the commander said.
The training is covered in three phases, said Staff Sgt. Dustin Belle, 14E instructor.
The first deals primarily with the ECS, where they learn about the system overall and its operation and maintenance, Belle said. In Phase 2 they learn about the operation and maintenance of the radar. In the last phase, they learn how to employ the system in tactical operations where they simulate air battles and shoot down threats.
"Every block of instruction begins in the classroom. Sometimes it's five minutes, sometimes it's days, then after the theoretical concepts they'll do the hands-on," Belle said.
The 14E Soldiers are also responsible for the movement and placement of the Patriot fire control system, and so they learn the basics of driving a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) tractor used to move equipment.
The job can be physically demanding, Belle said. There are heavy power cables associated with the EPP, which must be moved safely, and quickly at sites.
AIT concludes with a three-day field training exercise, where the Soldiers put all their technical training to use, as well as the warrior tasks they learned in basic combat training.
From AIT, the Soldiers go to such places as Korea, Germany, or remain in the continental U.S. including Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Sill, Belle said.
Scott said the new graduates often immediately go to hotspots.
"With the operational tempo of most Patriot battalions some of these Soldiers will leave here, check in, and go right downrange to join their units that are already deployed," Scott said. "That's why we stress the importance of learning this now in AIT."
What does it take to be an effective 14E Soldier?
"A good 14 Echo needs attention to detail, and perseverance overall," Belle said. "Everything can be mastered with enough practice and effort."
Pvt. Joseph Reyes, 22, from Redwood City, Calif., was one of the 16 14E students in Class No. 504-19E who participated in their class FTX July 31, at the Patriot Missile General Instruction Facility here. He said the technical training was what drew him to the MOS.
"14 Echo peaked my interest because it involves computers, and the technology is advancing," he said. "Another reason was that the 14 Echo gets assignments around the world."
Spc. Sunny Hough, 22, from Holland, Mich., was reclassified into the 14E MOS after she was injured during Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga. She and Reyes were in week 19 of their training and will graduate with their classmates Aug. 9.
"It's been a good experience. We have good instructors and NCOs who enforce standards and ensure that we are learning well," she said.
She said the technical training was the most challenging part of the curriculum for her, noting her college major was in the Arabic and Turkish languages.
Hough said she would recommend the 14E.
"You've got pretty decent promotion rates because it's a steadily growing MOS," Hough said. "It's a good job because it also translates into a lot of career fields, and gives you viable options going forward."
Belle described the 14E MOS as an exciting career field that comes with a lot of responsibility.
"It's a place where an 18-year-old Soldier can be put in charge of a multimillion-dollar weapon system that's protecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people," he said. "I can't think of a greater impact that a young Soldier could have on the Army and the world."