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3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

The 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment is a patriot-equipped air defense artillery battalion assigned to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and based at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment was first organized on 5 August 1916 in the Regular Army at Fort Mills, Philippine Islands, as the Fort Command Company, Fort Mills. It was redesignated in December 1916 as the 17th Company, Fort Mills (Philippine Islands) and again on 31 August 1917 as the 17th Company, Coast Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays. Elements of the unit deployed to Europe to participate in the Great War, with the unit being awarded campaign streamers for participation in the St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Lorraine 1918 campaigns.

The unit was redesignated again on 30 June 1922 as the 187th Company, Coast Artillery Corps and inactivated on 18 December 1922 at Fort Mills, Philippine Islands. It was redesignated on 1 July 1924 as Battery F, 43rd Coast Artillery. This unit was disbanded entirely on 14 June 1944. The unit was reconstituted on 28 June 1950 in the Regular Army and concurrently consolidated with Battery B, 64th Field Artillery Battalion, which was then active. Battery B, 64th Field Artillery Battalion had been first constituted on 26 August 1941 in the Regular Army as Battery B, 64th Field Artillery Battalion, an element of the 25th Infantry Division and activated on 1 October 1941 in Hawaii. The consolidated unit was designated as Battery B, 64th Field Artillery Battalion, an element of the 25th Infantry Division. The combined lineage and honors saw the unit awarded participation credit for campaigns during the Second World War in both the European Theater of Operations (Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and Central Europe) and the Pacific Theater of Operations (Central Pacific, Guadalcanal, Northern Solomons, New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Leyte, and Luzon; campaign streamer with arrowhead for Leyte indicates participation in the initial assault landings).

Battery B, 64th Field Artillery Battalion subsequently deployed to Korea as an element of the 25th Infantry Division and participated in 10 campaigns of the Korean War: UN Defensive, UN Offensive, CCF Intervention, First UN Counteroffensive, CCF Spring Offensive, UN Summer-Fall Offensive, Second Korean Winter, Korea Summer-Fall 1952, Third Korean Winter, and Korea Summer 1953. The unit returned to Hawaii and was subsequently inactivated there on 1 February 1957 and relieved from assignment to the 25th Infantry Division.

The unit was redesignated on 12 August 1958 as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Missile Battalion, 43rd Artillery, with its organic elements concurrently constituted. The Battalion was activated on 1 September 1958 at Lumberton, New Jersey. It was redesignated on 20 December 1965 as the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Artillery and again on 1 September 1971 as the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery. The unit was inactivated on 15 September 1974 at Pedricktown, New Jersey.

The Battalion was reactivated on 1 July 1987 at Fort Bliss, Texas. Elements of the battalion deployed to Southwest Asia in 1990 as part of Operation Desert Shield and subsequently participated in Operation Desert Storm, being awarded participation credit for the Defense of Saudi Arabia, Liberation and Defense of Kuwait, and Cease-Fire campaigns. During Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, the air defense assets in theater included 2 Patriot battalions that were located back in echelons above corps, one a 6-battery battalion that was located in Dammam area for primary tactical ballistic missile defense. The other, a half battalion, 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery (-) was located in Riyadh, providing a 3-battery defense. Elements of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade that were deployed executed a phased deployment into Saudi Arabia to initially provide anti-theater ballistic missile defenses to critical assets. In Phase One, Task Force 2-7th Air Defense Artillery deployed 4 battery packages augmented with Stinger/ground defense from 5-62nd Air Defense Artillery to Dhahran, Al Jubayl, Ad Damman, and Umm Said. In Phase Two, Task Force 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery deployed 2 battery packages augmented with Stinger/ground defense from 5-62nd Air Defense Artillery to Riyadh to provide anti-theater ballistic missile defense.

As of late February 1998, more than 6,000 soldiers from Army posts across the nation had deployed to Southwest Asia as part of Operation Southern Watch. US Forces Command (FORSCOM) provided assets from Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Other units deployed included signal units from the Army Signal Command at Fort Huachuca, Arizona; 2 Patriot batteries from the 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery at Fort Bliss, Texas; and a cargo transfer company from Fort Eustis, Virginia. By April 1998, more than 900 soldiers assigned or attached to air defense units were deployed in Southwest Asia to serve in a joint coalition operation involving Middle Eastern allies and more than 30,000 US service members. These soldiers, part of Task Forces 1-1st Air Defense Artillery and 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery, the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (32nd AAMDC), and the 3rd Infantry Division's short-range Air Defense unit, deployed to the Middle Eastern nations of Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. While TF 1-1st Air Defense Artillery deployed as part of a normal rotation to Southwest Asia, Task Force 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery and the 32nd AAMDC were both rapidly deployed. This was the first deployment ever for the 32nd AAMDC, which was a relatively new unit having been begun to be established in 1997.

From February of 1998 until January 1999, 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery performed 2 short notice deployments of Minimum Engagement Packages (MEPS), in support of an Air Force Expeditionary Wing (AEW). The Battalion minus along with 2 Patriot batteries deployed on no notice to Southwest Asia as Iraqi provocations threatened to rekindle the smoldering embers of Desert Storm during Operations Desert Thunder I and II, and Operation Desert Fox. 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery successfully completed another 6-month Southwest Asia rotation from July 1999 until December 1999. The battalion rear detachment performed superbly, taking care of families.

On 4 March 2002, the US Army conducted a successful intercept test flight of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Preliminary test data indicated the missile successfully intercepted the target and mission objectives were achieved. Soldiers of the 3-6th Air Defense Artillery and 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery, both from Fort Bliss, Texas, participated in the test. The PAC-3 Missile was a high velocity, hit-to-kill missile and was the newest addition to Patriot family of missiles. The PAC-3 missile provided increased capability against advanced tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and hostile aircraft. The PAC-3 missile successfully completed operational testing and began fielding in 2002.

In January 2003, 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery joined more than 1,000 Fort Bliss soldiers overseas as part of President Bush's efforts to pressure Iraqi to comply with UN resolutions. Battery B, Task Force 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery deployed to Eskan Village, Saudi Arabia, while other elements of 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Operation Iraqi Freedom answered the question of the lethality of the Patriot system. Patriot soldiers were completely involved and showed that their new generations of Patriot missiles were highly lethal, and totally reliable against tactical ballistic missiles. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Patriot missile interceptors showed successful against 8 Iraqi missiles that they had engaged with.

In May 2004, 3-43rd Air Defense Artillery used 2 BD-5J microjets in a training exercise to prepare for the unit's upcoming Coalition Joint Task Force Exercise at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. The microjets flew cruise-missile profiles at the Fort Bliss, Texas and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, training areas. This was the first time air-defense units had trained under such realistic circumstances. The microjet sorties were arranged through the Joint Cruise Missile Defense organization.

The unit was redesignated on 1 October 2005 as the 3rd Battalion, 43d Air Defense Artillery Regiment.

3-43rd Air Defense Artillery was ordered to deploy to the Middle East as part of President Bush's troop surge in Iraq. This Patriot missile-equipped air defense unit from Fort Bliss, Texas was the first Patriot missile unit to deploy to the Middle East since the leadup to the war in Iraq in 2002. About 600 soldiers headed to the region by February 2007, deploying with the USS Stennis Carrier Strike Group. As of mid-January 2007, it was unclear exactly where the soldiers would be stationed, though initially it appeared that there would be no Patriot elements in Iraq. Air defense artillery units had been used previously to provide additional manpower, having converted temporarily to light infantry organizations.




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