Air Defense unit gets back to basics at Warrior Base

by Spc. Kendrix Lima, 6-52 ADA Unit Public Affairs Representative
U.S. Army

WARRIOR BASE, South Korea -- Every January the sounds of battle can be heard echoing throughout the frigid hills near the DMZ. But the explosions and gunfire aren't the clatter of actual combat, they're the signal of the semi-annual Iron Warrior exercise.

Soldiers of the 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment conducted the Iron Warrior exercise at Warrior Base, just a ten minute drive from the DMZ, to sharpen their warrior tasks and battle drills and qualify on various weapons systems, Jan. 5 -- 12.

The Iron Horse Battalion makes the trip to Warrior Base twice a year, using its expansive live fire ranges for weapons training and qualifications.

As an air and missile defense unit, 6-52 ADA's primary role is as a deterrent, and if deterrence fails, as a defense against hostile aerial ballistic missiles and warplanes. Most training exercises focus on that primary mission, but Iron Warrior challenges Air Defenders on their more basic Soldiers tasks and overall combat readiness.

"Our air defense mission is very specialized, it requires a lot of training and it's what we do best," said 1st Lt. Peter Toberman, an operations officer with 6-52 ADA. "But it's important we don't lose focus of the basics, ensuring we're proficient with our weapons and developing well rounded Soldiers."

Soldiers demonstrated their marksmanship skills on a variety of weapon systems including the standard M16 rifle; light, medium and heavy machine guns; fragmentation grenades and grenades launchers.

Soldiers also conducted training responding to nuclear, biological and chemical contamination. They then tested the capabilities of their protective equipment against tear gas in a training event commonly referred to as the "gas chamber."

"It was my first time training on so many weapons since basic training," said Pvt. Aiden Bendele, a systems maintainer with Headquarters Battery. "And it was much more in depth. We packed a lot of hands on training in just one week."

Bendele, a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, earned an expert rating on his individual weapon, the M203 grenade launcher, as well as qualifying with the M2 machine gun and M67 hand grenade.

"It was challenging, but fun at the same time," he said. "After it all I'm a lot more confident in myself as a Soldier."

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