FORT BLISS – The Army’s senior Air Defense leader and commanding general of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command met with Soldiers from the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command at Fort Bliss, Texas, Nov. 30.
Lt. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler recognized their accomplishments and asked for feedback about their recent deployments to U.S. Central Command.
“I’m proud of every one of you, your readiness and your ability to protect strategic assets and do it in a moment’s notice,” Karbler said during his visit.
The Soldiers expressed pride in doing their mission while deployed, and they talked about their readiness, their confidence in the weapons system, and the impacts on their families.
Sgt. Andre Smith, Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery, who recently returned from his second deployment spoke about his personal experiences and his perspective on the air and missile defense mission.
“Personally, for me the deployments have been a learning experience,” he said. “I feel like they’re a necessary sacrifice to ensure that the battles and wars we may fight overseas don’t happen here on our own home front.
“What we do in air defense is important because we don’t only defend assets but we defend people, our brothers and sisters in combat arms,” Smith added. “We make sure they cannot be attacked from above, so they can make sure we’re not attacked from the ground.”
Smith said that although his deployments brought him a strong sense of pride, they do impact his family.
“It’s been hard on my family because of the countless hours I’ve spent away from them, but my family understands what I do,” he said. “I’m a Soldier 24 hours. On deployments especially it’s harder on them, but they understand that and support me.”
In spite of the hardship, he said he’s ready.
“When the next deployment comes around and the Army calls, I’ll be mission ready,” Smith said. “I’ll use those past experiences to lead Soldiers who might not have any (deployment) experience.”
The ADA force has experienced challenges with demand over the last 20 years. The persistently high operation tempo and deployments shouldered by air defense formations tells the story. Although efforts are ongoing to reduce demand and develop more predictability, the adversary’s actions result in the nation continuing to depend on air defense forces to perform vital missions across the globe.
“When the adversary starts acting up, we have a responsibility to keep our forces protected,” Karbler said. “You as ADA Soldiers continue to meet the call.”
Karbler said Army senior leaders value ADA Soldiers and recognize the sacrifices Soldiers and families make to retain readiness in the face of this extreme OPTEMPO and deployment unpredictability.
“Combatant commanders are aware of the readiness you bring,” Karbler said. “And Army senior leaders truly acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices you make every time you deploy.
“Although you were separated from friends and family and many of you were given a deployment on short notice; you got certified, did your mission and recognized the importance you provided for strategic deterrence,” Karbler said. “Stay resilient. Stay ready. I’m thankful for what you’re doing for the branch, and I’m proud of the job you do.”