By Spc. Khori D. Johnson, 3rd AAB, 4th Inf. Div., Public Affairs OfficeNovember 16, 2010
NASIRIYAH, Iraq - From the outermost reaches of Camp Adder there is a small group of Soldiers who watch the sun rise over the Ziggurat of Ur every morning, but they are not simply watching the skies to enjoy the view. They are watching to keep their fellow Soldiers and the camp's neighbors safe.
The crew, known as the "Slayers," out of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 4th Infantry Division is one of many radar teams who serve as the first line of defense against indirect fire for everyone in and near the brigade's posts throughout southern Iraq.
The Slayer crew's umbrella of responsibility hangs over a large section of Camp Adder's surrounding area, including two Iraqi army camps, a few Bedouin camps, and neighboring villages.
"We provide security for Camp Adder by detecting indirect projectiles and helping provide an early warning for everyone to be able to take cover," said Staff Sgt. Franky Bunch, of Jefferson, Ohio, radar section leader, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.
The Slayer crew uses the firefinder radar system to keep a watchful eye out for indirect fire. Once an incoming rocket or mortar is detected, the radar crew quickly communicates with the base defense section to allow Soldiers enough warning to take cover.
As a field artillery firefinder radar operator, Bunch said his mission in Iraq is exactly what he's trained his whole career on.
"This is what we do," he said.
Thankfully, Camp Adder does not receive indirect fire every day. However, the radar techs stay busy with frequent maintenance and upkeep of the system. The tech crew checks and cleans the system every day to keep it in good working order.
"We spend about 70 percent of our time maintaining the equipment to ensure that it works when the time comes," said Bunch.
With a job as important as indirect fire defense, the crew must always be ready, so they sleep where they work. The Slayers stay on site, always an arm's reach away from the radar.
The Slayers have remodeled their compound into a place that they can call home, complete with a basketball court, coffee shop and barbershop - important amenities for Soldiers to unwind from the daunting responsibility of protecting thousands of people from attack.
"The pressure's always on," said Bunch. "But, I think we do a pretty good job."