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PATRIOT Task Force

Army forces in Saudi Arabia include a rotating U.S. Army Patriot missile battalion task force which is deployed on a 120-day rotation. The Patriot Task Force has the mission of conducting tactical ballistic missile defense of specified assets in southwest Asia and maintaining pre-positioned Patriot missile equipment in the theater.

Each battery has eight missile launchers, each containing four missiles.

Patriots have been stationed in Saudi Arabia since Operation Desert Shield / Storm in 1990-1991, first with two battalions under 94th Brigade (ADA) in Oct 1991, eventually being replaced by 10th Bde (ADA) in January 1992. With the formation of ARCENT-SA in July 1992, the Tactical Ballistic Missile (TBM) mission fell to a rotational Patriot Task Force under the Command and Control of ARCENT-SA.

The PATRIOT Task Force brings a variety of capabilities to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It provides an integrated air defense capability in support of Joint Task Force - Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA).

The PATRIOT Task Force is a subordinate unit to U.S. Army Forces Central Command - Saudi Arabia (ARCENT-SA). Air defense rotations have been in the Persian Gulf area since Desert Storm in 1990. Nine air defense battalions had rotated to Southwest Asia as of January 2001. Some units have sent forces two or three times already. Some individuals have deployed as many as eight times. The task force normally is divided between both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

On 25 June 1996, the lives of 19 United States military personnel were lost in a terrorist attack on Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). This attack began the planning phase of Operation DESERT FOCUS, which eventually led to the relocation of approximately 6,000 people within KSA and improved the Command's ability to protect lives and assets stationed throughout Southwest Asia (SWA). Operation DESERT FOCUS relocated people, aircraft and equipment to three primary sites in KSA: Eskan Village, Riyadh; Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB), Al Kharj; and Eagletown/Site 12, Dhahran. The Army's Patriot batteries and their support personnel remained in Riyadh and Dhahran. The crews at Dhahran moved from Khobar Towers to the Royal Saudi Air Force's King Abdul Aziz Air Base. The crews from Riyadh moved to Eskan Village. The forces from Riyadh relocated at Eskan Village in a matter of weeks, during August 1996.

In 1998 ARCENT-SA supported operation Desert Thunder, a show of resolve against Iraq. During Operation Desert Thunder, ARCENT-SA increased the number of active Patriot batteries from 4 to 6, moved Patriot batteries to four new sites in Kuwait and Bahrain, deployed a Ready Reserve Battery from CONUS, and prepared plans to position an eighth battery back in the Eastern Province. Since, the end of Desert Thunder, the number of Patriot batteries was reduced to two active and one RRB in Saudi Arabia and two ARB in Kuwait.

Task Force 1-7, known as Task Force Panther, comprised of soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, Fort Bliss, Texas and A Company, 2nd of the 137th Infantry, Kansas Army National Guard, assumed the role of providing 24-hour air defense protection to critical allied assets in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Emirate of Kuwait. A relief -in-place ceremony, signifying the transfer of mission responsibility between an outgoing and incoming command, was conducted 12 June 2001 at the Army Central Command-Saudi Arabia (ARCENT-SA) headquarters at Eskan Village, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, was formed into a task force specifically to support this Patriot missile defense mission. Guard soldiers provide site security and force protection to the Patriot sites in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Relinquishing the Southwest Asia air and missile defense mission to Task Force Panther was Task Force Lion, which included soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery, Fort Bliss, Texas, and soldiers of B Company, 2nd of the 135th Infantry from the Minnesota Army National Guard. Task Force Lion assumed the mission in January 2001.

In January 2001 at Eskan Village, the antiballistic missile defense mission in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait changed hands from one PATRIOT missile task force to another. Task Force 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment relieved Task Force 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, both home stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. Lt. Col. John Rossi, Commander of TF 2-1 ADA unfurled the unit colors marking the assumption of the mission. TF 1-1 ADA Commander Lt. Col. Kelvin Bright cased his unit's colors marking the beginning of his unit's trip home. TF 2-1 ADA became a subordinate unit to U.S. Army Forces Central Command - Saudi Arabia (ARCENT-SA). Incoming TF 2-1 ADA was the first PATRIOT missile unit to deploy with elements of its National Guard counterparts. Battery B (PATRIOT), 1st Battalion, 203rd ADA Regiment, Alabama Army National Guard, joined TF 2-1 ADA in this historic rotation.

In September 2002 newspapers in Kuwait featured front-page stories about the arrival of more Patriot missiles, defensive weapons meant to shoot down incoming Scud missiles. The Patriot batteries are to be deployed around the Ali al Salem and Ahmad al Jaber air bases, where the US and British aircraft that enforce the "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq are stationed.



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