There are currently four operational air and missile defense commands in the U.S. Army. Three of them (the 10th, 32nd and 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Commands) are within the active-duty force. One, the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, is in the Army National Guard.
The 10th AAMDC and 263rd AAMDC Soldiers had the opportunity to come together and conduct ballistic missile defense training over a two week period, culminating March 7.
Nearly 40 Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 263rd AAMDC mobilized on Rhine Ordnance Barracks for annual training in support of 10th AAMDC ballistic missile defense exercise. The exercise brought together Airmen and Soldiers from across U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, helping them combine and hone their missile defense skills.
Lt. Col. Scott Joslin, operations officer with 263rd AAMDC and officer in charge of the mobilized troops, explained the challenges associated with preparing and deploying for the mission.
“The majority of our team was alerted near the end of January that we’d be flying to Germany to support the 10th (AAMDC) for this exercise,” Joslin said. “We had a lot to do and a short time to do it to make the trip happen, but everyone came together; we did what needed to be done, and everyone flew in on time.”
Joslin and the rest of his team served in critical observer-controller and behind-the-scenes trainer roles, training and testing the participants’ skills. Duties included overseeing execution of mission-related tasks and presenting training scenarios, called injects, all of which helped members of the 263rd receive valuable and realistic training.
Spc. Matt Hecko, early warning systems operator, Sgt. Ben Bottoms, Air and Missile Defense crewmember, and Sgt. Cory Barrow, AMDC, served with the 263rd AAMDC for 10, 13 and five years, respectively, and made up a training cell that simulated battery and battalion-level subordinate units for the 10th AAMDC staff being trained.
“This is my first exercise of this kind, getting to see another side of air defense operations, since normally we spend a lot of time in the field — on the ground,” Bottoms said.
“It really has been a great experience with real-world scenarios we’ve been able to throw at these guys,” he said.
In addition to the long hours training with their 10th AAMDC counterparts, 263rd Soldiers had the opportunity to travel and enjoy the sights. They visited the Lorraine American Cemetery and
Memorial in France and took a Rhine River cruise in Bingen.
“We rode the train a lot and celebrated (the Germany holiday) Fasching in Mannheim,” Hecko said. “It was nice to see people in costumes having fun.”
Spc. Christopher Anderson, early warning systems operator with the unit, said the Morale, Welfare and Recreation trips were a highlight of the stay.
“This was my first time in Germany, and I really like the culture and how friendly and helpful the people are,” he said.
Above all, the 263rd trainers were able to contribute their expertise and time to support their fellow AAMDC soldiers during the exercise.
“Overall, it’s been a great event,” Joslin said. “Hopefully we’ll leave everyone with a sense of having supported and provided what was required.”