AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Battalion, 11th ADA Brigade, maintain and operate Patriot missile launchers here, in defense of Al Udeid’s skies, personnel and assets.
Soldiers of the 1-43rd ADA Battalion can rapidly respond to a threat if needed and train regularly to ensure they are experts in operating these surface-to-air weapon systems.
“Our mission here is to neutralize any air missile defense threats we may face,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jared Blockus, Charlie Company, 1-43rd ADA Regiment tactical control officer. “We all play a vital role in defending the assets that our commanders deem are important.”
Operating a launcher requires attention to detail and quick reaction. Soldiers of the 1-43rd ADA remain ensure they can operate the assets safely by following operating procedures.
“The equipment and the weapon system itself is larger than what meets the eye,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Ronald Sharpton, Charlie Company, 1-43rd ADA Regiment patriot missile operator and maintainer. “The equipment itself has built in safety features but that alone is not enough. We have our squad leaders, non-commissioned officers, supervise Soldiers as they fulfill their daily tasks. That helps ensure the safety of everyone.”
Readiness is a major focus for Soldiers assigned to the battalion. Constant training keeps maintainers and operators proficient and prepared to respond if necessary.
“Anything could happen at a moment’s notice so they need to know exactly how to operate their weapon system and do so in a manner that will enable us to defeat threats,” said Blockus. “Soldiers train daily to make sure all their tasks and battle drills are up to date and we conduct certifications on them monthly to make sure we’re in accordance with what we need to execute our mission set.”
Sharpton said Al Udeid’s environment provides his team with a unique training opportunity that is hard to simulate back at their home station.
“Al Udeid is a great location to have an air defense artillery presence because of the joint force that’s here,” said Sharpton. “We’re able to work hand-and-hand with the Air Force and their airplanes and help defend them as they fight in the air. Hopefully our team can take away some experience and knowledge that we wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else besides Al Udeid.”