Army, Air Force Dominate The Sky
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Johnathan Hoover
October 12, 2018
Over the past year, the U.S. Army 11th Air Defense Artillery “Imperial” Brigade, Task Force Spartan, has been the operational headquarters of the Top Notch Brigade for Patriot air defense throughout the U.S. Central Command area of operations and has worked side by side with the U.S. Air Force.
Co-located on Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar, the two forces have built a professional and mutually beneficial partnership which allows each force to operate freely.
“We provide the air missile defense coverage which allows our joint partners to conduct their plan and conduct their strategic level missions,” said Col. Issac Gipson, commander of the 11th ADA. “In any type of conflict, it has to be a joint force who goes out to conduct the mission.”
The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing operates numerous mission sets out of Al-Udeid supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel using assets such as B-1 bombers, C-130 and C-17 cargo aircraft and KC-135 tankers.
U.S. Air Force Col. Jeffery Schreiner, vice commander for the 379th AEW, says Al-Udeid is a unique place. He says depending on what week it is, there are about 28 joint coalition partners here to focus on getting the mission done.
“All of the platforms we fly out of here have the reach and the capability to put themselves in the fight, whereas when you talk about fighter assets and smaller unmanned aerial system assets, you have to have those forward stationed,” said Schreiner.
“In order to operate effectively, we need to provide a certain level of safety for those assets,” said Schreiner. “The ADA is vital in a location like this because it really allows us to operate from sanctuary here.”
Having the ADA assets co-located here gives the Air Force freedom to operate. Although getting the threat down to zero will never happen, ADA is more than capable of protecting the base, Schreiner says.
“Here an ADA umbrella allows us to pretty much operate without any fear,” Schreiner added. “We’re not too concerned about that threat and if that threat does manifest we are confident the ADA assets will be able to defend us.”
The Air Force and ADA bring a unique combination of strength which dominates the sky.
“We complement each other. ADA provides the Air Force sanctuary to operate if something bad really happens,” said Schreiner. “ADA becomes the last line of defense in terms of the airfield and assets, whereas air power is providing the strategic level umbrella to make sure it doesn’t even happen.”
The two forces support the U.S. Air Force Central Command priorities of decisive airpower: defend the region; defend the base; prepare; discipline and professionalism; and protect and take care of each other.
"AFCENT Airmen deliver airpower, defend the region and develop relationships, and the support of the Top Notch Brigade is invaluable in helping us get the job done,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Southwest Asia. “The capability Top Notch Soldiers provide in helping defend Coalition Airmen, aircraft, and installations from ballistic missile threats directly supports the coalition's ability to operate and take the fight to the enemy."
According to Gipson, Top Notch 11th ADA units may provide the deterrence factor, but it would not be possible without the support from the Air Force hosting Patriot sites on their installations.
“The relationship that has been built with the Air Force on Al Udeid and the other tenant units is unmatched,” said Gipson. “The support we receive from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, from the operations group, from the support, and every other Air Force organization is unparalleled.”
Through two air missile exercises, the Air Force provided air conditioners, fuel support, and assistance with communications while Airmen trained alongside the Army to hone their skills. The Air Force has also included Army units in all the groups and organizations on the installation.
“The Air Force really goes out of their way to incorporate us in not only the day-to-day operations but in command and health promotion organizations to ensure we maintain our combat readiness,” said Gipson. “They have been phenomenal in supporting any effort we have here on base while continuing their primary airpower mission supporting the AOR.”
The team of Army and Air Force has been built over several years of co-existing together on installations throughout U.S. Army Central Command and U.S. Air Forces Central Command. One of the Army’s Imperial command philosophies is “Exceptional Experiences” which the Air Force has provided to ADA.
“Here on Al-Udeid and at other Air Force installations where I’ve been with tenant units, overall, it has been a phenomenal experience." said Gipson.