MARCH 15, 2019 – Soldiers from the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command facilitated the first ever deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to Israel. Col. David E. Shank, the10th AAMDC commander, said going through the rigors of establishing a highly capable weapons system during the unannounced defensive drill exercised the Total Army Concept by focusing on global mobility.
“THAAD is the U.S. Army’s most capable and most lethal air missile defense system,” Shank said. “By bringing THAAD to Israel it integrates into the layered air and missile defense.”
Shank said that the employment was a great opportunity for every soldier to work shoulder- to-shoulder with the Israeli Air Defense Forces.
“This is a great moment in history,” Shank said. “It is a clear symbol of the strength and commitment of the U.S. and the State of Israel. This type of exercise only makes us stronger.”
For a successful THAAD employment, a team effort and strategic-level coordination are required not just with the United States Military but also with the host nation.
Lt. Col. Brendan McShea, a key 10th AAMDC planner and former THAAD commander, said the deployment represents the achievement of years of hard work by numerous personnel in the Israeli Defense Forces and United States.
“Bringing this asset forward allowed us to validate a key piece of the Integrated Air and Missile Defense architecture,” McShea said. “This Dynamic Force Employment provided a credible demonstration of our ability to project Ballistic Missile Defense capability across the globe on short notice.”
The deployment of most capable and most lethal AMD system has global implications McShea said. “Deployment of THAAD sends a strategic message, not only to adversaries, but also to Allies and Partners by reassuring them of our commitment and readiness, McShea said. “THAAD is part of our layered Ballistic Missile Defense system. It is a critical complement to layered IAMD.”
McShea said the deployment of the THAAD battery, which shoots down long- and intermediate-range missiles, represents the United States’ long-standing partnership with Israel.
“The relationships built through repeated training events are tremendously strong. The idea of “standing shoulder-to-shoulder” with our partners here permeates everything we do,” McShea said. “I consider many of the IADF officers I’ve worked with to be not only comrades in arms, but also friends. When you are on the ground supporting this mission, the gravity and seriousness with which the Israelis take the defense of their homeland and families drives home the heavy responsibility we have in support of it.”
The participating units included the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, 174th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion, B-2 THAAD, 1-43 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Missile Defense Agency, United States Transportation Command and the Israeli Defense Forces.
“THAAD will continue to be a crucial part of our ability to defend combatant commands and the homeland from these threats,” McShea said.
The 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade THAAD Operations Planner, 1st Lt. Josh Fergel, said the deployment demonstrates the Army’s ability to integrate into Israel’s air and missile defense architecture at a moment’s notice.
“It really does demonstrate the United States Military’s ability to deploy a missile defense system on a moment’s notice anywhere in the world,” Fergel said. “It’s a scenario we’ve run simulations with and trained for years.”
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hanna Baird, a THAAD planner with 10th AAMDC has worked closely with the Israeli construction team and the site mayors during the deployment.
“The Israeli team are hard workers and are exceptionally diligent in making this mission a success,” Baird said. “The Israeli team’s accomplishments has been very impressive.”
Baird said she has a great working relationship with her Israeli counterparts, which is critical to the success of THAAD in the future.
“I believe the future for THAAD is continually improving the development of the system and increasing the fielding capacity,” Baird said.
Story by Capt. Robert Durr
10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command