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Patriot Battery
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Private 1st Class Andrew Quintana, 2-1 Air Defense Artillery Alpha Battery patriot operator, rotates the Patriot Advanced Capability Launcher while Private 1st Class Ralph Collins checks for any malfunctions. All over Korea, Patriot Advanced Capability Launchers are used in defense of military installations. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Roy Lynch)
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Army Patriot Batteries stand ready to defend the Wolf Pack

Posted 8/9/2010   Updated 8/9/2010 Email story   Print story


by By Staff Sgt. Amanda Savannah
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/9/2010 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- If missile threats are detected in the skies near Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, one Army unit stands ready to be the first to respond.

The mission of Army Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment here is to protect the runway and the base from opposition tactical ballistic missiles, said Capt. Seneca Vaughn, 2-1 ADA commander.

"We defend the runway and the base so the Air Force here can accept follow-on forces and take the fight north, if necessary," she said.

The battalion meets their mission by using the Army Patriot air defense system. Capable of defeating both high performance aircraft and tactical ballistic missiles, it is the only operational air defense system that can shoot down attacking missiles, according to an Army Web site.

"Our Patriot weapons system is designed to track TBMs, from the time they are launched, to the time we intercept them," the captain said.

To make the system work requires a lot of coordination between two battery platoons, the fire control platoon and the launch platoon.

"The FCP is basically the 'brains' of getting the missile to fire," Captain Vaughn said. "The platoon controls a manned engagement control station that communicates electronically with the radar that tracks the TBM. The engagement control station also 'talks' with the launchers to fire the missiles. So the Soldiers in the station control the missiles being engaged by sending information through fiber cables to the launcher and by maintaining radio contact with the launch platoon."

Where the FCP is the brains, the launch platoon Soldiers are the "brawn."

"The launch platoon loads the missiles into the launching stations, connects the fibers that talk to the engagement control station -- they do everything working around the launchers except fire the missiles," said Captain Vaughn. "They load, reload, and make sure the launchers are on and in communication with the ECS. The Soldiers inside the ECS talk to the Soldiers on the 'hot crew' at the launcher site by radio constantly to make sure everything is working."

Within each platoon are crews, led by a fire control enhanced operator in the FCP and a launcher station enhanced operator in the launch platoon.

"The Patriot missile system crews are used to launch advanced-technology ammunition capable of neutralizing multiple air targets," said Sergeant First Class Latrice Barker-Williams, 2-1 ADA Fire Control Platoon sergeant and acting first sergeant. "The Patriot launching station crews also work directly with the Patriot launching stations and operate a 10-ton crane in order to conduct loading and reloading of the Patriot missiles."

A support platoon also keeps the entire battalion on track and able to accomplish the mission.

"Without the support platoon, we wouldn't be able to accomplish our mission," said Sergeant Barker-Williams. "All the things like fueling, food and maintenance, comes from the support platoon. They are as crucial as the FCP and launch platoon."

To keep their skills fresh, the battalion participates in base exercises, as well as a few of their own.

"In the Air Force exercises, we follow the same rules as everyone else," Captain Vaughn said. "We have a representative in the EOC (emergency operations center) who passes information between the EOC and the platoons as they perform their mission, in the right gear at the right time.

"Last week, (July 23-27) we also had a battery field exercise and a Patriot Rodeo," she said. "We were training our replacements, and at the end of the week, we were evaluated for the Patriot Rodeo."

The Patriot Rodeo determines the best crews across the 2-1 ADA battalion, which includes three other units on the peninsula. The Alpha battery here took first place in seven out of 10 crews, said Captain Vaughn.

The captain said the Soldiers here are "doing wonderful."

"We've had no issues, two gunnery certifications and the Patriot Rodeo, and we came out on top in that," she said. "These guys have proven that they can do their mission. They have what it takes to do what they need to do and move quickly from the barracks to the tactical site and assume their mission."

Specialist David Ortiz, 2-1 ADA Patriot enhance operator maintainer, said he enjoys being part of the battalion here.

"Being part of the unit here is fun. It gets me away from home and I'm experiencing new things," he said. "I love the people I work with the best, and I like having the opportunity to experience Korea and its culture."

Captain Vaughn said the Soldiers also love the care they are receiving from the Air Force here.

"The Air Force has been extremely accommodating," she said. "Our Soldiers love the care they get here, from medical, dental, the chaplain, the CAC (community activity center), and the fitness center, and (the Air Force's) response to anything we need - in every section we've never had an issue with any way the Air Force supports us."

Sergeant Barker-Williams agreed.

"If we need anything from the Air Force, they are more than willing and will bend over backward to help us, and that's great."

Captain Vaughn also said the battalion is glad to be here, protecting Soldiers and Airmen alike.

"We're happy to be here, helping in any way we can to defend the base," she said. "The Soldiers take great pride in knowing that we're the first to fire; they know that for those missiles to go off and defend the base, we need every single Soldier on each crew."

8/11/2010 5:21:46 PM ET
Soldiers and Airmen working together -- got to love it
NLS, Hickam AFB
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