NEWS | July 11, 2018

Air defenders always improving

By Sgt. 1st Class Jason M. Klyne Task Force Spartan

The Delta Battery “Direwolves”, 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Top Notch 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, hit the ground running after arriving in the CENTCOM Area of Operations in late December 2017. 

Falling in on a Patriot missile site is never easy. Time takes its toll on the tents, vehicles and equipment on the site, and there are inevitably areas that need to be fixed or improved by any incoming unit. 

From renewing site defense plans to general beautification efforts, the Soldiers of Delta Battery have been ready and willing to help when and where they can. They are taking steps to ensure they leave a lasting legacy for other air defenders to follow.

The Direwolves recently oversaw the implementation of a commercial power input for their Patriot missile systems. The site previously relied on the use of tactical generators. But thanks to the tireless efforts of Delta’s maintenance team working alongside specialized civilian contractors, the site is now up and running with a long-term sustainable commercial power solution.

“The transition to commercial power allows me to perform much needed maintenance on our own generators and ensures that we will always have a source of power in reserve,” said Pfc. Manu Sogelau of San Francisco, Calif., a power generation specialist assigned to Delta Battery.

Delta’s Patriot missile launcher reload crews have also taken steps to ensure they leave the site in better shape than when they found it. With the help of the local Navy Sea Bees, the Patriot missile reload crews were able to significantly improve the routes which lead to and from Delta’s launching stations. 

The Sea Bees used their equipment and expertise to smooth out the roads, saving valuable maintenance time and money typically spent on tactical vehicle repairs as a result of the punishment inflicted by the previously rough terrain. 

Sgt. Dominick Vega from Tucson, Ariz., the Delta Battery maintenance shop foreman, said, “I am so relieved that the Navy was able to help us out in this manner as it will save us time and money in the long run by not having to replace so many parts on our vehicles.”

Another area of site improvement occurred recently thanks to Delta’s working relationship with a small group of Soldiers from the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion from the New York Army National Guard. 

The 101st Soldiers specialize in tropospheric antenna groups. The purpose of the tropospheric antenna group is to help boost the Patriot missile communication signal and to provide the Patriot missile firing batteries greater communication redundancy. 

In order to improve the performance of the antenna during rising temperatures, Delta Battery recently built a custom insulated wood-paneled box that channels air conditioning directly onto critical components of the equipment. 

“I am always impressed with the way our battery innovates and explores new ways of getting the mission accomplished,” said Sgt. 1st Class Angela Freeman from Chicago, Ill., a platoon sergeant from Delta Battery.

A final area of site improvement for the Direwolves has come with the enhancement of the overall site defense. Based on an assessment of current threats in the region coupled with analysis of known threats historically, the site defense plan is constantly evolving. 

Delta has taken steps to help fortify their location by filling vulnerable gaps with sand bags and adding security barriers in various places within the perimeter. 

“I enjoy getting back to my infantry roots and further developing the site defense plan,” said Capt. Samuel Baldwin of Fairfax, Va., commander of Delta Battery and former infantry officer. “This provides Soldiers additional motivation and purpose, reminding them of their important responsibilities as Soldiers and warfighters first.” 

For the remainder of their time in theater, Delta Battery will continue to improve the site and refine operations. 

Future projects on Delta’s site will include the construction of improved fighting positions and the building of an additional communications tower.

Delta Battery has also initiated contracts which will allow them to utilize the host nation’s sewer and water system. This would move the site one giant step toward self-sustainment and eliminate the need for daily deliverable water and sanitation services. 

In the midst of all the site improvements, Delta’s primary focus remains on the critical air defense mission. Soldiers stand ready to engage and eliminate hostile missile threats at a moment’s notice. 

By constantly enhancing their base of operations they ensure that subsequent rotations will be able to do the same.