By Staff Sgt. John QueenAugust 25, 2007
HANAU, Germany - As the U.S. presence in Germany progressively gets smaller due to base closures, deployments and units' relocating stateside, the need for vigilance still remains.
Currently, bases throughout the Hessen area are scheduled to close next year as part of the Army's transformation.
To ensure the safety of residents in these military communities, as they decrease in size, nearly 30 Soldiers from the Hanau-based, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery are on standby as part of a Quick Reaction Force that is ready to respond at a moments notice in case an emergency arises.
"It's important that we defend or Soldiers and family members from known, as well as unknown threats," said Capt. Garrett Shannon, the battalion's force protection officer. "We have to keep an active, trained and prepared force ready to respond to anything."
Using several teams, each of the battalion's firing batteries rotate duties as QRF on a fluctuating schedule.
According to Sgt. Adrian Johnson, one of the QRF's team leaders, even though you can not see the danger here in central Germany like you would in Afghanistan or Iraq, there is a real terrorist threat here.
"I think its necessary we're here," he said. "We've been called out to a few real-world missions where we've helped augment the areas Military Police force."
To maintain a high state of readiness the QRF is called up several times a week at various times and locations throughout their area of responsibility. Once in place they conduct an assortment of training scenarios, as well as real missions.
"It's tedious work keeping on top of things, but we have to be ready at all times," Johnson said.
All of the Soldiers attached to Johnson's team are Patriot Launching Station Enhanced Operators and Maintainers assigned to the battalion's Alpha Battery.
Johnson explained that while working as the QRF, the team, which is primarily made-up of newer Soldiers, has been taking the opportunity to train in force protection procedures that they normally would not.
"It's a break from their usual duties," he said. "By doing this training on the QRF missions it teaches the new troops another skill-set."
Pfc. Andrea Deel, a native of Wise, Va., and a member Johnson's QRF team said that the training they receive during their missions is crucial to fighting the war on global terrorism.
"This helps us to realize that there are terrorists out there that are trying to get at us," she said. "It's good practice in the event something real happens."
Deal also said that some of the missions are exciting as well.
"We've done a lot of different things," she said, "like patrols, sweeps and searching for Improvised Explosive Devices."
Another Soldier on the team, Pfc. James Fontanna, from Virginia Beach, Va., added that none of the training they have received has been too complicated.
"There are just a lot of processes with a lot of attention to detail." He said.
The battalion, which is part of the V Corps, 69th ADA Brigade, began its QRF mission several months ago and will continue serve as the areas protecting force for the foreseeable future.
(Staff Sgt. John Queen is from the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Public Affairs Office)