Field and Air Defense Artilleries are not the same

Courtesy Photo | An Avenger Air Defense System from 1st Battalion, 204th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Mississippi National Guard fires a Stinger air-to-ground missile during a Live Fire Exercise at Oro Grande Range Complex March 24, 2020.
March 25, 2020

FORT BLISS, TEXAS – For some units, preparing for deployment can be a daunting task, especially when differences in Soldiers’ backgrounds and experiences are common.

1st Battalion, 204th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Mississippi National Guard used their culminating training exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas as an opportunity to stand on a common ground and approach its upcoming deployment with a refined mission focus.

Like all National Guard units, 1-204 ADA gathers one weekend a month for battle assembly and two weeks a year for annual training. It makes sense that units use that condensed time to focus on the core tasks to complete the assigned mission.

Capt. Michael Maberry, commander of Bravo Battery, 1-204 ADA, Mississippi National Guard says that his unit saw an opportunity to adopt a frame of mind that would help his Soldiers get the job done.
“We got to get out of that more garrison mindset and into a more field mindset; A real ADA mission mindset,” Maberry said. “It’s bringing us back to what ADA should be.”

To help refine that mindset, 2nd Battalion, 362 Field Artillery Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West used the post-mobilization training and validation process to simultaneously bolster skills specific to air defense and emphasize the importance of other tasks.

Sgt. 1st Class Bernard Carr, a field artillery fire support NCO and observer, coach/ trainer assigned to Task Force Kodiak, 2-362 FA, says that field artillery and air defense artillery are not the same.

“You’d think they’d be the same because their artillery, but there’s a lot of differences between the two,” Carr said.

Because of those differences, Task Force Kodiak partnered with a sister brigade from First Army Division East that specializes in air defense tactics and training to ensure 1-204 ADA rehearsed the most up-to-date tactics and procedures. Carr said guest trainers were as helpful for Task Force Kodiak as for 1-204 ADA.

“It’s also a benefit to us,” Carr said. “We get to pick their brains about what [air defenders] do, the types of systems they use and the types of training that they conduct.”

To this point in his command, Maberry said his battery has participated in several smaller scale events during monthly battle assemblies and annual training.

“This is definitely the biggest scale [exercise] we’ve done so far,” Maberry said.

The end result of the collaboration of Task Force Kodiak, guest OC/Ts, and 1-204 ADA Soldiers is that the Mississippi National Guard unit is ready to execute its mission as part of this nation’s total force concept.

“We want to make sure they leave here being successful where ever they deploy to,” Carr said. “Our job is to coach, teach and mentor these guys and give them not just one person’s expertise; everyone brings something positive to the table.”