AL ASAD, Iraq -- Recently, reservists from 4th Low-Altitude Air Defense Battalion were activated to be part of the Security Battalion, Marine Wing Support Group 37, for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing here.
Made up of two detachments from Pasadena, Calif., and Marietta, Ga., this is the first time 4th LAAD Bn. has ever been deployed with both elements combined into a single unit.
Normally assigned to protect ground troops from aerial attacks, performing security duty isn’t normally the primary mission of a LAAD battalion, so preparing for the responsibility was taken extremely seriously.
“We went from working with missiles to doing infantry type training,” said Lt. Col. Michael S. Perkins, executive officer, Security Battalion. “The Marine Corps needed the man-power and we just stepped up where required.”
Going through intensive training at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., the battalion focused on training involving desert maneuvers and advanced weaponry.
Perkins, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., said that even though his unit specializes in air defense, there were many in the battalion who had qualifications that applied to security.
“We have people who are police officers at their civilian jobs,” said the 42-year-old. “We try to task each Marine with a job that they’re familiar with.”
With most of the responsibility for installation security on their shoulders, 4th LAAD Bn. has many different jobs that require their attention.
“We provide security for the entire air base,” said Perkins. “Escorts, patrols, guard towers, convoys, entry control points, and the quick reaction force all fall under the Security Battalion.”
According to the Marines, intensive training prior to their deployment provided the skills and the conditioning they needed.
“It’s been pretty challenging doing security duty,” remarked Austell, Ga., native Sgt. Clayton V. Fambro, telecommunications technician, Security Battalion. “All of the practice we had before coming out here has really paid off.”
Also part of the security team is the quick reaction force. They respond to all emergency calls that correspond to base security.
“The QRF has the ability to be on the road ready to go within minutes,” said Perkins. “With all the different threats to our base, they’re a significant addition to our team.”
Also part of the QRF is the Avenger platoon. Usually escorting the QRF at night, the Avenger HMMWVs have the ability to see in the dark with forward-looking infrared sensors and have advanced targeting with a mounted heavy-duty machine gun.
“It has the capacity to hold stinger missiles because its original use was with air defense,” said 22-year-old Marietta, Ga., native Cpl. James E. Godfrey, LAAD gunner, Avenger Platoon, QRF, Security Battalion, “but with no air threat out here we’re able to use it for it’s night vision capabilities and heavy firepower.”
With the quantity and variety of weapons and equipment needed to perform their job, Perkins feels that the Marines of 4th LAAD Bn. have been sufficiently prepared and have integrated well into their current position as security force.
“We are well equipped out here,” said Perkins, “and I’ve been really impressed at how fast the Marines have adapted.”