Photo Information

Cpl. Joseph Giordano, a team leader with Alpha Battery, 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, carries a FIM-92 stinger weapons system during the National Training Center Rotation 16-01 on Fort Irwin, Calif., Oct. 20. This was the first time in more than 10 years that a Marine LAAD unit participated in this exercise.

Photo by Cpl. Alissa P. Schuning

Low altitude air defense plays vital role in Army training

28 Oct 2015 | Cpl. Alissa P. Schuning 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Alpha Battery with 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense (LAAD) Battalion participated in the National Training Center Rotation 16-01 with the Army’s 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and 1st Cavalry Regiment in Fort Irwin, California, Oct. 5 to Oct. 22.

This was the first time a Marine LAAD supported this exercise in more than ten years and it gave Alpha Battery the opportunity to accomplish four battalion-level training and readiness qualifications.

During the training, 3rd LAAD provided ground-based air defense for the 11th ACR while fighting against the 1st Cavalry Regiment during a four-phase simulated engagement.

According to Capt. Robert Barclay, battery commander for Alpha Battery, 3rd LAAD, phase 1 and 3 consisted of full-fledged attacks from opposite portions of the area of operations. During phase 2 and 4, each side had an opportunity to establish a defense while the opposing force tried to penetrate the defense.

The participating service members and vehicles donned Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System gear. That gear allowed them to attack opposing forces without the risks associated with live ammunition.

According to Barclay, the MILES gear was an added bonus to the already extensive training they underwent.

“When Marines are conducting their training, it’s rare for them to go up against a live force,” said Barclay. “We faced a large combined arms brigade with 80 tanks, 150 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and numerous ground forces. The training the Marine Corps does is great but it’s usually a simulated attack. This is by far the most extensive and best training I’ve ever received at this point in my career.”

Along with fighting against a live force, another aspect that made the training so beneficial was working with the Army.

“When you’re working just with Marines you’ve only got that one factor of the job,” said Cpl. Joseph Giordano, a team leader with Alpha Battery, 3rd LAAD Bn. “We pretty much know what the Marines are going to do but when you are working with the army it’s a totally different ball game. Some of the tactics are similar but they have their own way of doing things so we have to change our standard operating procedure to match how they’re going to move so we can determine how to best defend them from an air threat.”

According to Barclay, the Marines did a tremendous job during the exercise and he hopes that they will continue to conduct this training with the Army in the future.