By Rose L. Thayer
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD — The post welcomed the 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, with an activation ceremony on Monday. The unit is the 15th Patriot battalion to be added to the force to sustain operations around the world, said Col. Jimmy Jenkins, brigade commander.
He said while the U.S. military is in the midst of a drawdown, there is still a strong need for additional air defense around the world.
Jenkins was at Fort Hood for a few days before rejoining the brigade in the Middle East, where he oversees all air defense units in the region.
The newly activated battalion will train and acquire equipment over the next several months and officially begin work on Oct. 17. A deployment is already scheduled for the Middle East in the winter of 2012.
“We wanted to stand up units as we had the requisite number of people to begin training,” Jenkins said. “That way we’re not starting from scratch; we’re at least at a brisk walk.”
To fill the battalion, about 650 soldiers will come to Fort Hood.
Monday’s ceremony welcomed three of the six batteries that will make up the battalion. Battery commanders and senior noncommissioned officers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, Alpha Battery and Echo Company were on hand to assume command and responsibility; Bravo, Charlie and Delta companies will follow.
“The main thing to look forward to is getting everything prepped to accomplish our mission,” said Maj. Troy Williams, the battalion executive officer.
The 69th Air Defense Artillery was deactivated in 2005 while part of the 25th Infantry Division artillery at Fort Bliss, but has been a part of America’s military history for more than 200 years, having earned 47 campaign streamers and a Navy Presidential Unit Citation through the course of eight wars, according to GlobalSecurity.org.