FORT SILL, Okla., May 21, 2020 -- 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery “Lethal Strike” recently uncased its colors in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The Patriot missile  Soldiers are conducting joint and combined air and missile defense operations to protect assets from aerial and missile attacks, and aerial surveillance in support of the CENTCOM commander’s operational and strategic priorities.Lt. Col. Lourdes Costas, 3-2nd ADA commander, provided information through an email interview on the unit’s deployment preparations.The 3-2nd ADA Battalion assumed an Intermediate Reaction Force mission Jan. 1, which required its Soldiers to be trained, certified, and ready to deploy, if activated, within a seven-day window, the commander said.The battalion conducted weekly administrative processing “rodeos,” and Soldier Readiness Program (SRP) processing to ensure Soldiers met deployment standards.Battalion and Soldier and Family Readiness Group leaders also conducted town hall meetings to share information, and to address any concerns from family members.Battle ready  The battalion executed a focused maintenance period ensuring that all mission essential equipment and vehicles were operational, Costas explained.Maintenance records were verified ensuring all paperwork and services were up to date.Air and Missile Defense Fire Crews, Missile Reload Crews, and Communication Relay Group crews continued to maintain their  warfighting proficiency by using their own equipment, and the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade’s Reconfigurable Table Top Trainer, she said.In early March, 3-2nd ADA was notified that it was being placed on an expedited deployment to the CENTCOM area, which stretches from Northeast Africa across the Middle East to Central and South Asia.PandemicAll planning and preparations were going well and on track, but then COVID-19 struck, Costas said. “Safety precautions were put in place to protect our force from the virus, but those precautions limited the leadership’s access to the formation.”The 3-2nd ADA also received a shelter-in-place order for all deploying Soldiers to protect them further before deployment.All pre-deployment preparations conducted in the event of activation before the COVID-19 restrictions allowed the battalion to remain on glide path and meet all predeployment gates, she said.“It was challenging and it required leadership to think out of the box and be creative, but the battalion remained on its deployment timeline,” she said.Warfighters maintained their proficiency by conducting unclassified classes through the Defense Collaboration Services, or DCS.Theater-specific training that required in-person facilitation was conducted in smaller groups with attendees maintaining social distancing.All other training was conducted via Slack, which is roughly a civilian version of DCS, said Maj. Chad Forsythe, 3-2nd ADA executive officer.Each battery and the Maintenance Company also posted boards in the barracks to display information, such as SRP and Rapid Fielding Initiative timelines.RFI provides deploying Soldiers with specific gear oriented toward their deployment, said Forsythe.Household goods and privately owned vehicle storage timelines, critical movement timelines, and required training were also posted.Leaders used several texting and messaging platforms to pass information.Team SillThe movement preparation area (MPA) is an inspection of vehicles and containers for deployment operations. The MPA rail equipment was completed before COVID-19  restrictions were implemented.The MPA for strategic air (STRATAIR) equipment was completed mostly by members of 3-2nd ADA Rear Detachment and 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery, which is the Lethal Strike’s sister battalion; and Fort Sill Logistics Readiness Center (LRC).The rail load operations were a true team effort as members from all battalions within 31st ADA Brigade assisting, Costas said.The 3-2nd ADA Rear Detachment; 4th Battalion, 3rd ADA Rear Detachment; and 5-5th ADA provided over 100 Soldiers to load hundreds of pieces of equipment onto rail cars.Medical personnel at Reynolds Army Health Clinic (RAHC) accommodated the battalion as it navigated all medical SRP stations, Costas said.RAHC provided one centralized entry point for all 3-2nd ADA deploying Soldiers to expedite the SRP process.Soldiers were screened before  entering the facility and maintained social distancing once in the clinics.“All the agencies and tenants on Fort Sill were very helpful and flexible,” Costas said. “We owe so much to the LRC  and Transportation Office for taking care of us.”For their administrative processing, Building 4700 also provided one centralized entry point, and spaced all seating 6 feet apart in the basement to separate the deploying force from all others conducting normal business in the Welcome Center.To expedite the SRP administrative process, Soldiers from 3-2nd ADA S1 section assisted the staff at Bldg. 4700  ensuring that all necessary documentation was updated.Colors casingCeremonies such as the casing ceremony and farewells were done through virtual means, Costas said.The casing ceremony was conducted April 29, in the presence of 10 personnel at battalion headquarters. It was also livestreamed on the 3-2nd ADA Facebook page.Soldiers were also given the opportunity to record  “so long” messages to their families which were then played on Facebook.DepartureSections of the battalion deployed May 1-7, with the main body leaving May 3.On their day of departure, Soldiers living in the barracks were transported to the battalion via bus.  All other drop offs were planned and coordinated by the 3-2nd ADA Battalion’s Rear Detachment.The battalion headquarters’ parking lot provided one-directional traffic flow for families dropping off their Soldier.Once stopped, Soldiers from a baggage detail removed bags from the vehicle while the Soldier said final goodbyes. Families were not permitted to exit their vehicles at any time.The 3-2nd ADA Motorpool was the consolidation area for deploying personnel.Upon entering the motorpool, Soldiers were screened by 31st ADA Brigade medical personnel, who performed temperature checks.Once cleared, Soldiers drew their weapons and waited in the holding area until transported via Soldier Xpress buses to the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport.All deploying personnel were required to wear face coverings for the duration of the movement, including on the aircraft.All members of the flight’s ground crew and aircrew wore face coverings.New flight crew members picked up at layover locations had their temperature checked and were asked medical questions.Soldiers were required to remain on board the aircraft at all layovers.In-theater, Soldiers were transported via bus to a quarantine site for 14 days.Family support“The Soldiers and Families of the ‘Lethal Strike’ Battalion are amazing,” Costas said. “Deploying a battalion during a global pandemic with major restrictions is tough, but the patience, flexibility, and support we received from our Soldiers and our families was truly second to none.“We’re excited, prepared, trained, and ready to conduct our mission.  Lethal Strike!”