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6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade: A history 1988-2012

May 17, 2012
By Lt. Kyle Werner and David Christensen, ADA historian

FORT SILL, Okla. -- As part of the closing ceremonies of the Fires Seminar, the 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade will be redesignated as the 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

The ceremony, open to the public, is May 18 at 10:30 a.m. at the parade ground across the street from the Monti Hall, off Austin Road.This is not only a momentous occasion for the Fires community, but a monumental event for the history of the ADA branch and the Army.

This change of numerical designation re-establishes the lineage and honors of a unit that served as a coastal artillery brigade during World War I, an artillery brigade during the Cold War and up through the Camp David Accords, and now continues the history making journey as an ADA brigade.

Closing the chapter of the 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is bittersweet, as every air defense Soldier has been trained by the staff and faculty of the 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade at one point or another in their military career and thus, is a part of its rich legacy. Between 1988 and 2012, the brigade was responsible for testing resources for the newest and most state-of-the-art weapons systems in the world. The brigade also ran an always-evolving center for Soldier education, which provided a strong foundation for all air defense artillery officers, noncommissioned officers and enlisted Soldiers. Additionally, the brigade served as a bridge for international relations and training for allied and friendly nations.

Before being designated the 6th ADA Brigade in 1988, the official title was The School Brigade. The redesignation from The School Brigade to the 6th ADA Brigade was approved by the Army Training and Doctrine Command through Permanent Orders No. 165-18, Aug. 25, 1988.

Col. Vincent Tedesco Jr. commanded the brigade at the time of the redesignation. The ceremony took place at Fort Bliss, Texas, Nov. 7, 1988. The brigade's original mission in 1988 was to serve as the host unit for all new U.S. Army air defense weapons systems, plan and conduct unit activations, conduct collective training, and facilitate preparation for deploying air defense units.

The brigade also supervised and monitored Army Forces Command training, unit readiness, emergency deployment, readiness exercises and contingency plans of assigned and attached FORSCOM units. The unit's mission included providing administrative and logistical support for allied and friendly nation military students. At that time the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th battalions, all TRADOC units, permanently assigned to the brigade.

The 1st Battalion's mission was to operate the Officer Advanced Course and Senior Warrant Officer Course. The battalion also continued to conduct professional growth seminars for the spouses of the Officer Advanced Course students.

Assuming the primary Air Defense Artillery School support mission for the Chaparral, Vulcan and Hawk systems was assigned to 2nd Battalion.

The 3rd Battalion was responsible for common task, skills qualification and annual physical readiness testing for the personnel assigned to the various nine directorates and departments within the Air Defense Artillery School.

In 1988, 4th Battalion hosted more than 2,000 students from 26 countries. It also supported more than 800 students, cadre and soldiers of the German Air Force Defense School, the Japanese Annual Service Practice and a local contractor-operated English language training facility.

On Sept. 26, 1990, 1-56th ADA was the first addition to the 6th ADA Brigade. Since Sept. 1, 1971, the mission of 1-56th ADA had been to implement and oversee the basic training and advanced individual training of Soldiers who were entering the high- to medium-altitude air defense weapon system field. In 1990, with the addition of three AIT batteries and one transition battery, 1-56 ADA became the only ADA AIT training battalion in the U.S.Army.

In 1993, 2-6th ADA spearheaded the experimental phase of many new systems into the ADA branch. The battaPand evaluation of the Light and Special Division Interim Sensor, Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle, Ground-Based Sensor (e.g., Sentinel Radar, and Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence systems). Progress was evident June 18, 1996 when an Avenger crew being trained by 2-6th ADA made history by becoming the first short-range air defense team to successfully destroy a modern cruise missile surrogate.

The new millennium brought many changes to the structure of the 6th ADA Brigade. In March, 2001, the 1-6th ADA cased its colors permanently during a reorganization ceremony. Among its many accomplishments, 1-6th ADA was most noted for its testing and operation of the-then Theater High-Altitude Air Defense Missile System. In June 2004, 4-6th ADA cased its colors for the last time because of a brigade reorganization. To their credit, 4-6th ADA had trained more than 1,400 officers a year, for every year of its existence.

The War on Terrorism forced even more changes within the 6th ADA Brigade. The ADA leadership understood that it had to modify its training approach to meet the changing contemporary operating environment requirements. The Top Gun Course was designed by the 6th Brigade leadership as a result of lessons learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom. The course took a graduate-level look at existing Patriot Missile technology and attempted to reduce the risk of fratricide on the battlefield. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lloyd Chaffee was named the "Original Top Gun" at Fort Bliss by achieving the highest academic average in the initial class Nov. 24, 2004.

The battalions that remained after the reorganizations of 6th Brigade were 1-56th ADA and the 6th Brigade's 2nd and 3rd battalions. The 1-56th ADA, which had historically directed basic training and AIT, received a new mission. The new and current mission of 1-56th ADA is to train active and Reserve component lieutenants, captains and Army select battalion and brigade commanders in the Basic Officer Leaders Course, the Captains' Career Course and the Precommand Course, respectively. AIT training on the Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar System was assigned to 2-6th ADA. C-RAM is a joint fires system that involves and is supported by the Navy, The Army's field artillery branch and ADA. The 2-6th ADA also trains AIT students on the Avenger/Stinger and the Sentinel Radar Systems. AIT Soldier training on the Patriot System is conducted by 3-6th ADA.

In June 2009, the Army Air Defense Artillery School and the 6th ADA Brigade relocated from Fort Bliss to Fort Sill. This move was a result of the BRAC 2005. A transfer of authority ceremony held June 24, 2009, reassigned the 6th ADA Brigade to its new home at Fort Sill and within the newly established Fires Center of Excellence.

Overall, the 6th ADA Brigade has been home to all of the ADA officers and enlisted personnel at one time or another, and has given them a solid foundation for being the tactical and technical experts that they are. The brigade has provided the members of the branch with this strong foundation for over two decades, allowing the unit and its Soldiers to thrive. The 6th ADA Brigade has truly lived up to its motto, "Heart of the Branch."

The 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade ("Always on Target") was organized July 24, 1917, in the Regular Army at Fort Adams, R.I., as Headquarters, First Expeditionary Brigade, Coast Artillery Corps.

On Sept. 17, 1917, it redesignated as Headquarters, First Separate Brigade, C.A.C. This new unit was created in response to the need to establish a nucleus of American heavy artillery troops in France.

Its men, mostly from the Coast Artillery Corps, trained on French ordnance and helped support French combat operations in February 1918. On March 25, 1918, the unit was redesignated as Headquarters, 30th Artillery Brigade and served as an artillery reserve for the entire American Expeditionary Force providing fires, training and staff support.

The unit remained active until Aug. 31, 1921, when it inactivated at Camp Eustis, Va. Almost five years later, the unit reactivated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 30th Coast Artillery Brigade at Fort Eustis, only to be inactivated there once again March 31, 1930.

June 24, 1960, saw its rebirth, when it was again reactivated at Okinawa, as the recently redesignated HHB, 30th Artillery Brigade. The unit inactivated yet again June 12, 1973, in Oakland, Calif., and has waited until now to be resurrected.

As all gather here May 18, at the redesignation ceremony of the 6th ADA Brigade to Headquarters, 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, they not only will witness history in the making, but will become part of that history for future generations. On that date, Headquarters, 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade will be transferred to TRADOC and activated at Fort Sill.

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