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Air defense batallion marks anniversary, explains role

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- A year has passed since 1/1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion Soldiers arrived here to provide missile defense for Okinawa in support of the US-Japan bilateral security treaty. 

The 1/1 ADA and the 18th Wing stand ready to provide stability in the western Pacific by combining missile defense and air combat power capabilities against potential regional threats. 

"We are trying to be better partners with our sister services here, working with the 18th Wing as part of their operational readiness exercises throughout the year," said Lt. Col. Edward O'Neill, 1/1 ADA commander. 

The U.S Army Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC- 3) capable battalion moved here from Fort Bliss, Texas. 

"Our primary mission is to provide air missile defense for the combatant commander of Pacific Command and execute his war plans," said Colonel O'Neill. 

To provide a high level of protection, the Army has established a detailed training management cycle that keeps the crews and batteries certified. They train in a rotation of six-week intervals with each group going through different levels of training. 

"It's a tool for [us] to make sure that each unit provides a regularity of training to stay competent and combat ready," said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Kuppers, senior enlisted advisor to the commander. 

"My ultimate responsibility is making sure our soldiers are successful in all they do," said Colonel O'Neill. "I make sure that they are proficient on their warrior tasks and drills and that we remain a certified force." 

The 1/1 ADA brings a defensive capability to this part of the Pacific and stands ready to defend the island and other assets. 

"We are working with our bi-lateral partners, our joint services and the local community to promote peace and stability," said Command Sergeant Major Kuppers. 

The 1/1 ADA's main focus since establishing itself here at Kadena is to be more on the tactical ballistic missile side. One of their challenges is establishing long-term tactical sites. There are two rudimentary sites on base that provide that level of protection and more expansion is on its way. 

"Over the next fiscal years we'll see some construction taking place on base to provide us with truly robust tactical sites," said Colonel O'Neill. "There are also plans to construct a new battalion headquarters, motor pools and dormitories." 

The unit's vision is to have competent and confident Soldiers and leaders, ready to execute their operational mission at any given time. 

"In the long term, training leaders will make sure our Soldiers remain very well trained so when the nation calls upon us, we are able to respond rapidly with the level of protection that they asked us to provide," said Colonel O'Neill.