By 1st Lt. Shaun Bruner, 2nd Bn., 43rd ADA, 11th ADA Bde:
(El Paso, Texas, Aug. 3, 2017)
SOUTHWEST ASIA – Living on a large, international air base, the Soldiers of “Beast Mode” Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery, 11th Air Defense Artillery “Imperial” Brigade, interact with members of all branches of the military, and most of them have no idea what Beast Mode air defenders do on a daily basis.
“It’s actually pretty funny,” said 1st Lt. Zach Hartzell, fire control platoon leader, about his conversations with service members outside the battalion. “When you tell them about your job they’re usually pretty shocked. Most of them don’t even know that our site is here.”
Even for those who do know about the Patriot sites protecting the area, few understand how the weapons system operates and its role in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. That’s why, along with their work on daily site operations, the members of Beast Mode also brief and educate other services about the ins and outs of the Patriot mission.
“Bravo Battery” Soldiers regularly brief high-ranking members of all branches who are curious about their site, the Patriot system and how they contribute to the mission of the area of responsibility.
“It was pretty nerve wracking at first, briefing somebody so high in rank,” said Pfc. Brandon Mitchell, Patriot launching station enhanced operator maintainer, as he recalled his first few briefs about the launching station.
“Since then, I’ve gotten used to it and actually had some pretty cool conversations while briefing,” Mitchell said.
The battery briefs officers and NCOs on daily site operations, the functions of various pieces of equipment on site and the capabilities of the system in dealing with possible airborne threats in the area.
Last month alone, the battery gave site briefs to more than 30 Air Force personnel affected directly by the battery’s mission.
“It was great talking to an enthusiastic audience who really wanted to learn about (the) Patriot,” said Hartzell, who gave part of the brief. “These sister service members work closely with the Patriot radar but still knew very little about it.”
Those receiving the brief remained engaged the entire time, asking questions about the equipment and the Soldier’s individual jobs. As always, the Soldiers of Beast Mode impressed their audience with an extensive knowledge of their jobs and mission.
“It’s really great to build partnerships like this,” Hartzell said. “Every time we give a site brief we increase understanding and cooperation between branches.”
Hopefully, with time, Patriot will be recognized across branches for its vital role in the Army’s continued mission in the central command area of responsibility, he said.