BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN –
The U.S. Army 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Regiment relinquished authority for the Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) mission in Afghanistan to the 5th Battalion (BN), 5th ADA Regiment during a ceremony held here on Wednesday. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III, Bagram Airfield commander, presided over the transfer of mission.
2nd BN, 44th ADA Soldiers will redeploy to their home station at Fort Campbell, Ky., along with their detachment that had been serving in Iraq. 5/5 ADA recently arrived from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and will have an element concurrently serving in Iraq.
Lt. Col. James C. Reese and Command Sgt. Maj. Randy B. Gray, 2/44 ADA commander and command sergeant major, cased their unit colors in preparation for movement back to their home station.
Maj. Bruce J. Pauley and Master Sgt. Kevin M. Vanliew, 5/5 ADA Detachment commander and sergeant major, saluted the outgoing command team signifying their assumption of the mission. The 5/5 ADA battalion headquarters element is currently on-mission in Iraq.
“Since their arrival here in February, Lt. Col. Jim Reese and Command Sgt. Maj. Randy Gray have led their team in providing vital protection to our forces in two geographically separate theaters,” said Thomson as he began his remarks.
“For the first time in CRAM history, ‘Strike Fear’ executed split-based operations sending a Mission Command element, Alpha Battery, and Charlie Battery to Iraq, while the battalion headquarters along with Bravo Battery deployed to Afghanistan.
“With vigilance as their watchword, Strike Fear stood on point, 24/7, while the rest of us went about our business or slept. In essence, Strike Fear gave us freedom of action to focus on the mission,” Thomson added.
“‘Strike Fear’ is replaced today by the ‘Dragon Slayers’ of the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment out of Fort Lewis, Washington,” Thomson continued as he introduced the new team.
“This battalion’s storied past includes the activation of the first C-RAM intercept unit back on March 14, 2006 in Iraq. No stranger to the mission here, the Dragon Slayers arrived for their last tour here at Bagram almost exactly two years ago, on October 24, 2014.
“This great team has also been called to conduct split based operations in support of two tough missions, which they will no doubt complete with the same level of skill and dedication displayed by their predecessors,” Thomson added.
Lt. Col. Reese thanked his Soldiers, his leadership, and their U.S. and coalition partners for enabling the successes of his unit.“I’m humbled to stand here today as we mark another high point in the long history of the 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.
“The Soldiers standing before you represent the most deployed and combat experienced battalion in the air defense artillery branch; including our third deployment to Afghanistan and our eighth deployment as a battalion since 2003,” said Reese.
“At a time when the enemy’s abilities to place effective fires on BAF increased, our Soldiers over-matched them at every step of the way,” he added.
“To the Soldiers of 5-5 ADA battalion, the ‘Dragon Slayer’ Battalion, you are about to begin an incredible mission,” Reese concluded.
“I look forward to hearing about the successes that your outstanding unit will accomplish.’
Maj. Bruce J. Pauley thanked everyone in attendance for their warm welcome and support as 5/5 ADA prepared to assume the C-RAM mission.
I am honored to stand here today as we assume the mission in providing the critical early warning, take shelter, and defeating the enemy’s rockets, artillery, and mortars,” said Pauley.
“These Soldiers have dedicated countless hours of training to ensure their readiness in protecting our joint partners and allies at each of our defended locations throughout Afghanistan and the CENTCOM area of operation and responsibility,” he added.
“Our Soldiers are ready to live up to the high standards of readiness and execution set by our fellow Soldiers in Task Force Strike Fear.”