3-43 ADA deploying: "We-Fight-Tonight" mentality.
This article is about the recent multiple deployments of the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery (3-43 ADA), 11th ADA Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas, in today's dynamic contemporary operating environment (COE).
In November 2005, 3-43 ADA executed a permanent change-of-station (PCS) rotation of its four Patriot batteries from Fort Bliss to the 35th ADA Brigade in Korea. In return, the battalion received four Patriot batteries that had spent a year in Korea and began the Reset Phase of the ARFORGEN model in January 2006. Little did we know that the battalion would receive an order to deploy to the Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR) in just nine months.
Resetting. At the initiation of the ARFORGEN Reset Phase, our focus was to rebuild the new Patriot batteries from Korea and conduct individual and collective training in preparation to assume the Ready Phase of ARFORGEN at an undetermined date. As is the case throughout the Army, resources for the battalion in the Reset Phase are limited, and the battalion would spend three of the next nine months in the installation support Red Cycle.
Regardless, the faster the battalion certified crews, qualified Soldiers on weapons, conducted convoy live-fire training and completed warrior task training, the more capable it would be to respond to any contingency. Training these batteries, crews and Soldiers in the most deliberate and expeditious manner ensures the battalion's readiness and builds in the flexibility needed to respond to a typical Patriot contingency deployment.
Such training was much easier to plan than to execute.
Training and Readiness Strategy. Before receiving the new units from Korea, the battalion developed a strategy with definitive training gates and exit criteria to enable the battalion to transition out of Reset in 180 days.
First, we realigned personnel throughout the battalion to ensure battle-rostered crews had longevity together and all units were balanced equally for manning and NCO leadership. This naturally caused friction as personnel were swapped from one battery to another, but it was necessary to get the crews right before initiating any training.
We then began an aggressive training regime. We held weekly Air Defense gunnery training and tactical seminars as well as individual warrior task training. This resulted in all Soldiers' certifying on their individual weapons; common task training (CTT); and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) tasks within the first 45 days.
By the 90-day mark, the four Patriot batteries had certified at the Gunnery Table VIII and completed the majority of their warrior task training. At the 120-day mark, the battalion had completed a convoy live-fire exercise and certified Air Defense crews on Table XII. Included in this training plan were monthly emergency deployment readiness exercises (EDREs) and enhanced deep maintenance cycles.
The last phase of the 180-day Reset training plan included a second round of training on the weapons ranges and a brigade-level certification of our deployability and combat readiness. By the end of July 2006, the battalion was prepared to deploy.
Deploying. In September, the battalion was notified it had less than 24 hours to upload its modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE) equipment on rail cars for a deployment to Southwest Asia. With less than 11 months at Fort Bliss, the battalion was to be the first Patriot battalion deployed to the CENTCOM AOR since Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) began.
Key to the success of the battalion's deployment was the combat focus of the commanders, first sergeants and battalion staff. The battalion's weekly training meetings and the command and staff calls became readiness reviews similar to a detailed unit status report (USR) briefing, including USR tracking matrices, quarterly training briefing matrices and battalion deployment standing operating procedures (SOPs). Concurrently, unit commanders and first sergeants tracked personnel deployment readiness down to the individual Soldier, training readiness by crews, supply readiness by hand receipts and equipment readiness by bumper numbers.
As painful as these meetings were, they helped focus the battalion commander and staff on efforts contributing to warfighting readiness rather than on distracters. A Patriot contingency deployment typically is short-notice and, therefore, a We-Fight-Tonight mentality had to be the battalion mantra. This mentality became a reality as the battalion completed all motorpool and rail loading operations in less than 72 hours.
Once the battalion's equipment left the port, it was critical to establish a solid footprint in the AOR. This consisted of the battalion S3 and command sergeant major flying over with a small team of S1, S4, S6 and maintenance personnel to begin coordinating for housing the battalion's equipment and personnel.
The initial deployment order limited the number of personnel in the first "package" to arrive in theater. In this package, we sent only enough maintainers and Air Defense crews to provide limited theater air and missile defense (TAMD) for selected assets. These personnel conducted port operations, downloading more than 350 pieces of equipment and 30 containers, and moved the equipment out of the port within 48 hours. Immediately, we began emplacing our Patriot batteries. (A subsequent order allowed us to add 100 personnel to support our tactical operations and further develop the support base of our maintainers.)
At the same time, we had worked around the clock to establish the communications architecture to execute the "joint kill chain" and the ability to launch a Patriot Advanced Capabilities-3 (PAC-3) remotely. The battalion assumed the highest state of alert shortly after emplacing the batteries. All had been accomplished in exactly 12 months after the first group of Soldiers arrived from Korea.
Back at Fort Bliss, the executive officer (XO) and operations sergeant major integrated new Soldiers into the battalion, closed out barracks, deployed follow-on Soldiers and cleared our remaining motorpool "footprint" in support of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission's directives.
Finally, a third order deployed the remaining personnel in the battalion to provide TAMD in support of the Doha Asian Games, a soccer competition in Qatar, which is the second largest sporting event in the world.
Redeploying and "The Surge." In December 2006, we received an order to redeploy the majority of the battalion back to Fort Bliss while simultaneously maintaining an enduring TAMD mission in CENTCOM. By the end of December, the battalion was executing its original TAMD mission in theater with less than one-third of its force structure.
On 10 January 2007, the President gave his Surge speech that said he was increasing ground troops in Iraq and deploying Patriots to the region. The following day, the battalion received an order to deploy back into the AOR for an indefinite period.
Our next order required the battalion to split forces and command and control in two different countries. We again tailored our battle rosters to ensure we could split the headquarters and headquarters battery (HHB) and maintenance company to provide like capabilities in both countries and support the firing units. By having to replicate capabilities in two countries, we generated an operational needs statement (ONS) for another information and coordination central (ICC), tactical command system (TCS) and the ancillary equipment to build another battalion tactical operations center (TOC).
We began moving two batteries' worth of equipment plus the added slice of the headquarters and maintenance equipment by leveraging Army watercraft that routinely operated in the AOR conducting intra-theater movements. In two weeks, the battalion moved more than 119 pieces of equipment and 11 containers using Logistics Support Vehicles and Utility Landing Craft. With the arrival of the second ICC and subsequent missile upload, the battalion was prepared for operations in two countries in the CENTCOM AOR.
Once all missiles were uploaded and radar frequencies were obtained, the battalion established the rules of engagement (ROE) for Patriot within the AOR via the Air Force's special instructions (SPINS). The battalion also created sector Air Defense commands (SADCs) for the two countries.
Key leaders of the battalion worked closely with the senior Air Defense officer (SADO) in the combined air operations center (CAOC) to publish the SPINS. They also conducted daily exercises with the control and reporting center (CRC) to establish SADC for the air defense of the Arabian Gulf. The battalion maintained the highest operational readiness while providing CENTCOM a unique TAMD.
The Patriot force must be able to deploy with little or no notice, regardless of what ARFORGEN cycle the force is in. The missile threat continues to grow across the globe, and Patriot protection for both US and allied interests in is demand. Leaders must use their time and resources wisely, remain flexible to lead Soldiers and be focused on combat readiness to be relevant in such an unpredictable environment. The bottom line is the Patriot force must maintain a We-Fight-Tonight mentality.
Lieutenant Colonel Brian P. Dunn, Air Defense Artillery (ADA), commands 3rd Battalion, 43rd ADA (3-43 ADA), 11th ADA Brigade, at Fort Bliss, Texas, and is deployed to the Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR). In his previous assignment, he was a Joint Education and Training Planner in the J7 of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. He served as the S3 for the 11th ADA Brigade during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) I. He also served as an ADA Force Development Officer for the Army's G3 at the Pentagon. He commanded two batteries: D Battery, 5-5 ADA in the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea and B Battery, 4-6 ADA, 6th ADA Brigade, part of the ADA School at Fort Bliss.
By Lieutenant Colonel Brian P. Dunn, ADA