FORT CARSON, Colo. --
Marines with 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense (LAAD) Battalion, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) trained at Fort Carson, Colorado, Feb. 9 to March 11.
Since it is I Marine Expeditionary Force’s (MEF) only air defense asset, 3rd LAAD familiarized their Marines with the FIM-92 Stinger missile and prepared them for potential deployments.
“The mission of [the battalion] is to provide close-in, low altitude, surface-to-air weapons fires … and ground security forces in defense of the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Commander’s designated vital areas,” said 1st Lt. Cris Kimani, a low-altitude air defense officer with 3rd LAAD and a Dayton, Ohio native. “This exercise was designed to be treated as an actual deployment from preparation to retrograde.”
Throughout the training evolutions, 3rd LAAD Marines worked to develop their ability to engage aerial targets with the stinger missile, and completed five live-fire ranges which incorporated static Humvee machine gun positions, entry control point operations, mounted and dismounted fire and maneuver ranges, and military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) training.
“During this exercise, Marines have been able to complete the full spectrum of [the battalion’s] mission essential tasks in an environment that is different from what they are normally used to,” said Master Sgt. Michael Pritchard, a low-altitude air defense gunner with 3rd LAAD and a Tampa, Florida native. “The end state of this training is to complete [the battalion’s] predeployment training plan in preparation for future ground security missions.”
The culminating event of the training was a 120-hour evaluation of combat readiness. Marines with 3rd LAAD acted as the ground defense for an air base and conducted mounted and dismounted patrols, perimeter security, established a functional command and control center and responded as a quick-reaction force.
“The Marines have been doing a phenomenal job and have excelled in the execution of their ground security mission given the unfamiliar training environment and the harsher weather conditions,” said Kimani. “The high state of morale the Marines have exhibited throughout the training has been truly motivating.”