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407th AEG hosts missile defense exercise

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dana J. Cable
  • 407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

The 407th Air Expeditionary Group hosted a missile defense exercise June 16-24 involving a MiM-104 Patriot, which is a 700-pound missile system used to defend against aircraft and missiles.

Soldiers from Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment traveled to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia to exercise the movement capability of their Patriot battery missiles and to test how they can operate out of the 407th AEG.

This has been the first large-scale exercise of its kind in several years, said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Hane, 407th AEG chief of plans and programs.

“We are laying the foundation for joint operations with the Army and enhancing our relationships, network connections with Army counterparts and paving the way for future exercises to test readiness and enhance their capability to protect assets at the 407th AEG,” Hane added.

Approximately five-months of planning and coordination came to fruition throughout the nine-day exercise.

“This whole week was a training exercise (practicing) a contingency plan (demonstrating) our ability to conduct a tactical movement and integrate into the joint kill chain,” said U.S. Army Capt. Dwayne Abbott, Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment commander.

“They are testing communication equipment between here and other deployed locations,” Hane said. “That communication is vital if there was a threat; they need to coordinate with higher headquarters for authorization to engage and they are testing equipment with their early warning radar and missile aiming capability.”

Even though Abbott’s unit is self-sustaining, they needed additional support from the Air Force, he said.

“We definitely appreciate the support the Air Force has given us, and I know my soldiers appreciate it a lot,” Abbott said.

One example of support came from the 407th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.

“They provided us a portable entry control point with air conditioning and it’s the first time I’ve had soldiers actually volunteer to be gate guards, so that’s a pretty big deal,” Abbott said.

During Charlie Battery’s time here, they also were able to visit the flightline and get a close-up look at an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

“The Air Force extended us the opportunity to go out to the flightline and see the assets here,” Abbott said. “That helped soldiers see that they have a key role in the joint warfighter and where they fit in the bigger picture. It really helps them change their perspective and reminds them of exactly why we do what we do.”

Hane and Abbott agreed that, overall, the exercise was a huge success.

“For this theater, the ability to jump and do what we did is very unusual,” Abbott said. “A lot of coordination needed to be done; it’s pretty challenging, so just being able to jump is pretty significant.”

This exercise not only helped collect data for strategic level planners, Abbott stated, but help his soldiers broaden their horizons as well.

“This is the first deployment for the majority of my unit,” Abbott said. “So, for them to be able to experience this, it builds a lot of motivation and confidence in them and allows them to see how we operate in a joint world and see what we actually do for our sister services.”