Gladiators return home, ‘THAAD’ uncases colors

Fort Bliss
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 6:22pm

The “Gladiators” of Battery A, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), 11th ADA Brigade, returned home recently after an unprecedented deployment to Guam last April.

The Soldiers with A-4 ADA (THAAD) returned over the last few weeks from their year-long, deployment – the first real-world deployment of THAAD personnel and equipment in history. To celebrate the event, the unit held an official uncasing of the unit’s colors at the unit’s motor pool, Building 5794 on West Fort Bliss, April 10.

“We are very proud of all of you,” said Col. Clement S. Coward, the 11th ADA “Imperial” Brigade commander and guest speaker at the ceremony. “You are all part of history now. When people speak of THAAD, they will be talking about you and all the wonderful work you did during this past year.”

Coward also thanked the families of the Gladiators. “Their constant and unwavering support was essential in the success of this deployment and is much appreciated,” he said.

The A-4 ADA (THAAD) is the first operational THAAD battery in the U.S. Army, activated in 2007. April 3, 2013, President Barack Obama announced the deployment of the first THAAD unit to the U.S. territory of Guam in order to defend against a ballistic missile threat and to provide freedom of maneuver to the combatant commander in the Pacific Command area of operations.

Once in Guam, A-4 assumed operational status in less than two weeks and proceeded to distinguish the unit across the Pacific Command. Throughout the deployment, A-4 executed multiple Operational Readiness Exercises and gunnery table certifications, ensuring all crews maintained Table IV and Air Battle Management 11 qualifications.

They established the standard for maintaining combat readiness, conducted the first ever live-fire small arms range by an active duty unit on Guam, maintained a 98 percent certification rate for combat lifesavers and fulfilled the 32AAMDC commanding general’s guidance by completing a 4-mile run in less than 36 minutes before redeploying.

In addition, A-4 developed a Partners in Education program with Machananao Elementary School in Yigo, Guam. Working with teachers and guidance counselors, the battery was able to organize more than 35 events, which netted a combined total of more than 1,500 volunteer hours over the course of the year. The Soldiers took part in cleaning up the school grounds, tutoring students and sponsoring eight children for the Guam Special Olympics.

Soldiers of A-4 represented the Imperial Brigade through their constant operational and combat readiness as well as their support of the local community.

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