The Army has activated a new short-range air defense unit in Germany, the first such unit stationed in the country since the end of the Cold War drawdown.
The 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment was activated at Shipton Kaserne in Ansbach, Army officials in Germany said Wednesday.
Commanded by Lt. Col. Todd Daniels, the unit falls under the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command and will consist of five battery-level units equipped with FIM-92 Stinger missiles.
Army Guard units on rotation in Europe have been training with the Stinger missile system for months, but the regiment will be the only unit stationed indefinitely on the Continent that also employs the Avenger Air Defense system, an automated, mobile fire unit.
The main purpose of light, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles is to defend against low-flying helicopters, especially gunships targeting infantry, tanks and armored personnel carriers.
The activation is part of larger troop boost announced this summer that will result in about 1,500 more soldiers and their families being stationed in Europe by 2020.
Along with the new regiment, Europe is slated to host a new field artillery brigade headquarters and two Multiple Launch Rocket System battalions. The Continent will also gain additional supporting units at Grafenwoehr, Hohenfels and Baumholder.
The overseas force structure change is a result of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which directs the Army to increase its numbers.
“The addition of these forces increases U.S. Army readiness in Europe and ensures we are better able to respond to any crisis,” U.S. Army Europe said in a statement over the summer.
With the exception of the 4th ADA Regiment, the first of those units to be activated, the Army has yet to designate names for the new units.
In March, European Command chief Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told Congress he needed an Army fires brigade added to the permanent force structure in Europe.
A month later, the National Guard’s South Carolina-based 678th Air Defense Artillery Brigade was deployed to Germany on a rotational basis. They were replaced Wednesday by the National Guard’s Ohio based 174th ADA Brigade.
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