Although the world took a pause due to COVID-19, the air defense mission in Europe never stopped. The 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command remained ready to act at a moment notice. The leadership and Soldiers had to find unique ways to stay integrated with foreign allies and partners and maintain unit readiness while taking appropriate measures to protect the force.
Brig. Gen. Gregory Brady, 10th Army Air and Missile Commanding General, was able to remain connected with foreign allied and partner AMD leaders throughout the continent by virtual key leader engagements. These ongoing efforts ensure that strong air defense alliances are maintained and developed throughout the pandemic, demonstrating our commitment to our NATO allies and partners and the deterrence of the European theatre.
The 10th AAMDC Patriot and Short-Range Air Defense (SHORAD) battalions were able to sustain readiness by adapting to their training through the implementation of virtual measures, physical distancing, handwashing and wearing facemasks.
“The level of readiness for air and missile defense proved critical; we actually had Soldiers and leaders finding unique ways to mitigate risk to our formation,” Brady said. “Whether it was 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment executing their Patriot combined arms training strategy or 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, the Army’s newest short-range air defense battalion, executing a level of gunnery physical and digital to sustain their most critical air and missile defense roles.”
Capt. Michael Morgan, battery commander, assigned to Alpha Battery, 5-7 ADA explains that sustaining readiness while training up new Soldiers is difficult enough without COVID-19 restrictions.
“We have to be more deliberate and calculated when it comes to training and planning,” Morgan said. “We are learning how to lead at the battery level without always being physically present or hands-on. It’s a challenge, but our leaders and Soldiers are adapting and finding ways to succeed.”
It wasn’t just the air defenders training on their Patriot and SHORAD weapons systems; the maintainers also had their own set of distinctive challenges they overcame.
“During COVID-19, while conducting services on equipment you have to have people pass tools without touching or getting too close and it gets really hot when you are carrying heavy parts while wearing all your PPE,” said Pvt. Nicholas Pruitt, a mechanic assigned to Delta Company, 5-4 ADA. “Also, with fewer people available at all times to help with services, it takes longer, but we have kept up.”
Once travel restrictions were loosened, Brady seized the opportunity to conduct leadership engagements in Baumholder with the 5-7 ADA, and in Ansbach with 5-4 ADA.
“Key Leader Engagements are important because they allow key leaders to get direct feedback from their formations and emphasize their priorities,” said Capt. Andrew Defabio, Charlie Battery Commander, 5-7 ADA. “KLEs offer junior leaders and Soldiers opportunities to brief senior leaders and gain perspective from an operational or strategic level.”
During the leadership engagement to Ansbach, 5-4 ADA demonstrated its ability to conduct a “drive thru” COVID-19 testing of all Soldiers who departed to Latvia for the joint short-range air defense live fire exercise — Tobruq Arrows.
“It was a privilege to be able to showcase 5-4’s readiness capabilities with the COVID-19 Surveillance testing for Brig. Gen. Brady,” said Sgt. Benjamin Kroeger, HHB, 5-4 ADA. “We have been working hard to adapt and overcome the constant changes during this pandemic. I am proud to be a part of one of the only units in USAREUR continuing to actively train with the upcoming Tobruq Arrows.”
“It was our Soldiers and our junior leaders who proved critical in getting us through this,” Brady said. “We are also going to take it to the next level as we move to the summer months as we go back to executing our most critical joint and combined air and missile defense exercises in support of US Army Europe, European Command and NATO.”
The 10th AAMDC will be ramping up operations to prepare for and execute several joint and combined air and missile defense missions in the coming months including; Tobruq Arrows, Tobruq Legacy and Astral Knight.