Pvt. Mike Rivera

by Capt. Marion Jo Nederhoed
U.S. Army

Sergeant Time Training is not a thing of the past. The leadership from Launcher Platoon, Alpha Battery, 2-1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion utilize this time for team building and refining the skills of PATRIOT reload crew operators.

"A lot of people don't see what goes on behind the scenes. It is a lot of muscle memory and practice," Staff Sgt. Crystal Stultz, a squad leader and 14t from Westerfield, Indiana said. "These soldiers have a lot of pride in their jobs. We all start from the beginning and training as a team is one of the most important things we can do."

The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is focused on readiness and remains combat ready through tough and realistic training. The launcher platoon from 2-1 ADA at Kunsan Airbase, South Korea is currently training for the upcoming Table VIII and XII Air Defense Gunnery Table (ADGT) Certifications. These certifications validate that the operators are qualified on their equipment and that they are able to perform wartime operations when called upon. The PATRIOT mission is high priority for the Dragon Brigade. There are only four canisters on a launcher, so it is highly likely that the launcher will require a reload. This is the responsibility of the five man missile reload crew.

"We work as a team and we train as a team," Stultz, who is also a new arrival to the unit said. "We take the experience from school and blend it in. There is only so much they can teach you at school. The rest you have to learn here."

Leadership is a key part of the success of the team and is at the very core of everything that these air defenders do. These noncommissioned officers are role models whose duty it is to develop soldiers. Many of the Alpha Battery soldiers arrive directly from Advanced Individual Training and are quickly integrated into a crew and immediately starts preparing for certification. Crews have to be certified 90 days after receiving a new team member, and every 180 days after that.

The op-tempo is very high and soldiers often rotate out after just a year on the peninsula. Dragon Soldiers are tactically and technically proficient, experts in the profession of arms as an air defender. Being ready is a way of life on the peninsula.

"They are professionals, they work hard and they are highly proficient at their jobs," Stultz said. "Their training is purely based in an operational setting and a fixed site. This is how we train. We use all the training aids and simulation available to us."

Teamwork is a fundamental component of who the soldiers are as professional. It is inherent in the trust they have with fellow Soldiers every day. They continually work towards developing a cohesive and motivated team.

"I'm grateful for my leadership. I really feel like I'm part of a team here," Pvt. Mike Rivera from Indianapolis said. "I have strong leaders that have help me to improve myself. I have learned how to reload and prep the launcher for movement and placement and they have also helped me in the gym and to study for college courses that I'm taking."

Photo Caption:

Pvt. Mike Rivera from Indianapolis, Indiana receives instruction from his leadership during Alpha Battery, 2-1 ADA PATRIOT missile reload training.

(Photo Credit: Capt. Marion Jo Nederhoed)

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