FOB BASE KALSU, Iraq - A Phalanx Gatling gun, most often used by naval ships to defend against incoming missiles and rockets, has been installed at Forward Operating Base Kalsu in Iraq to add a little extra punch to the base's defense system.
The gun, modified to be land-based, was installed in late February. It looks like an R2 unit from Star Wars, but unlike the little astromech droid, this gun packs a punch.
Although very complex -- having the ability to destroy incoming artillery, rocket and mortar rounds in the air before they hit their targets on the ground -- the gun is still only as good as the Soldiers manning the defense system. The Soldiers upon whom this task falls are from Battery A, 5/5 Air Defense Artillery, 2nd Infantry Division.
As the only Army counter-rocket, artillery and mortar Intercept Battery deployed in Iraq, the job was a natural fit for the air defense Soldiers. Still, preparing for the mission was a time-consuming process, one which involved preparing the new gun site and coordinating its arrival with the necessary logistical support.
Many other agencies, including Multi-National Corps-Iraq and the base Mayor's Cell, got involved, helping streamline the process.
"It was amazing how the different agencies came together to cut a lot of the red tape," said Capt. Andrew Cornwell, 5/5 ADA commander.
The help allowed the group to complete all the necessary preparation work before the gun arrived. Preparation involved placing more than 50 T-walls to secure the area, the construction of a guard shack and running power and fiber optics to the gun site.
"I'm surprised at how fast the fiber got laid and was ready to go," said Staff Sgt. Paul Yuhas, Battery A shift noncommissioned officer.
Although the task of preparing and installing the gun is complete, there is still a lot left to be done by the Battery A Soldiers. The responsibility of manning the gun station will fall on these Soldiers for the remainder of their deployment.
Still, the protection provided by the gun to Soldiers and civilians living on the base is enough motivation for them to continue to do their job and show the Air Defense Branch's commitment and key fighting position in Iraq.
(Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky serves with the 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. PAO.)