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Feature Stories

NEWS | March 30, 2018

Air defense unit maintains readiness with gunnery training

By 2nd Lt. Kristen Kuri Task Force Spartan

Regardless of the theater, mission readiness is the focus of commanders at every level. It measures the ability of a unit to accomplish its assigned mission. 

In its most competent state, a unit is prepared to move into position and accomplish its mission. 

For the 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Top Notch 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, this means embracing the new Army practice of moving away from Army Force Generation model and adopting the Sustainable Readiness Model. 

In the SRM, the focus is on continuously maintaining a unit’s readiness to execute any mission anywhere in the world while remaining committed to strong, ready and resilient Soldiers and families. To do this, it requires supporting three pillars: training readiness, equipment readiness and Soldier readiness.

Delta Battery, 1-7 ADA, specifically, has displayed mission readiness this past quarter and going into next quarter by conducting daily air and missile defense operations (AMD) and preparing for Gunnery Table VIII certification, all of which encompass the three pillars. 

Basic soldiering skills paired with daily AMD operations and mobility training, laid the groundwork for the Table VIII certification. Soldiers are responsible for certifying on their Table IV examination prior to executing the collective Table VIII certification. 

This past quarter, the Soldiers of Delta have maintained a rigorous schedule that includes inspections and personal study blocks. Training readiness is a focus every day as it is pertinent to our current mission. 

According to Pfc. Christopher Harris, a network switching systems operator from Meniffee, Calif., training readiness is “participation and our ability to be 100 percent ready to complete the mission.” 

When not involved in day-to-day site operations, crews are conducting rehearsals and performing stand-alone mobility training as well as battery collective mobility training. 

Upon completion, trained individuals and/or crews conduct an after action review which is crucial to developing the Soldiers’ understanding of what is necessary to complete a more successful and efficient exercise during the next annual recertification. It is the responsibility of each individual

Soldier to take ownership of his or her training. 

“In regards to individual training, it is our job to understand the why behind the commander’s intent and then disseminate that information and emulate it as well,” said 1st Lt. David Earle, a tactical control officer from Marietta, Ga. “That means we need to practice what we preach and take the initiative in our training.” 

In the event of a real-world change of mission or location movement, the ultimate success of such a transition falls on the Soldiers’ foundation of training. The more prepared and equipped they are, the more likely it is that the transition will be smooth and seamless. 

Safety is instrumental in the conduct of all operations. Safety briefs are conducted before all exercise and mobility blocks. This allows leaders and Soldiers to review the given operation, identify risk or hazards and implement mitigation measures to ensure safe execution of the operation. This also allows leaders to conduct inspections of every Soldier’s personal protective equipment (PPE) prior to commencing an operation. 

Leaders in the unit strive to ensure that Soldiers not only have their PPE present, but also understand the importance of donning it throughout the operation. 

“PPE ensures we do everything with the utmost safety,” said Pfc. Jose Chacon, a Patriot enhanced operator from Phoenix, Ariz. “It helps ensure the task at hand is performed safely and with the minimal amount of risk.” 

The practice of performing the drills with PPE builds muscle memory for all individual Soldiers so that in the event of a change in the current state of events, they will continue to follow their protocols in a safe manner out of habit and will ultimately prevent safety-related injuries. 

In order to maintain maximum operational readiness of its assigned equipment, Delta’s approach is to be proactive in order to prevent being reactive.

In the two months leading up to the mobility training window, operators exercised on assigned equipment and conducted in-depth preventative maintenance checks and services (PMCS) to ensure faults were identified and bring components and vehicles to fully mission capable status. 

“It is important to consistently PMCS our equipment, to ensure the clerks are maintaining paperwork and ensure parts are ordered,” said Sgt. Amy Flores, the battery’s equipment, records, and parts supply specialist from Jacksonville, Fla. “If equipment falls below a [certain] percentile, the battery is no longer FMC.” 

Operators documented faults and ordered parts immediately to expedite the equipment recovery process. The maintenance section supported this operation by monitoring maintenance schedules and working to maintain equipment ahead of schedule when time and mission allowed. 

In order to maintain current mission and preparation of Tables VI and VII, Delta relied heavily on the experience and expertise of all maintenance crews. The equipment is the most fundamental portion of a successful mission. It is the integral part of daily AMD operations. Mission readiness starts with a properly maintained battery and Delta consistently shows the understanding of this essential task. 

Delta’s hard work and dedication to the assigned mission and weeks of training and preparation culminated on one day with the completion of Battery Table VIII certification.

In the two weeks leading up to the date of execution, Delta spent additional time on site training continuously and working up the gunnery tables under the guidance of the battery master gunner to ensure full understanding of the tasks expected to be performed. 

The final week entailed practice jumps in order to prevent any common errors. 

All the time and effort spent training was clearly evident to the standardization team. The entire evaluation was completed on the first day with all crews receiving a “go”. 

In an ever evolving theater, Delta, and air defense as a whole, consistently demonstrates excellence with a true understanding of the task at hand as well as the implied details which come with the undertaking of being continually mission ready.