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NEWS | July 10, 2023

157th CATB validates Army National Guard Air Defense partners for upcoming mission

By Sgt. John Irizarry, 157th Infantry Brigade

Observer coach/trainers from 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 157th Combined Arms Training Brigade, First Army Division East, recently partnered with 1st Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Ohio Army National Guard, for a mobilization and culminating training event, CTE, here.

The CTE ended with a live-fire missile range, validating the unit's readiness to assume the National Capital Region air and missile defense mission.

“I would describe this exercise as close to the real-world as we can get to meet some of the threats that we've already identified that are out there in an air defense type of scenario,” said Capt. Brandon Hatton, commander for Battery A, 1st Bn.,174th ADA Bde. "That is why we're out here to stress ourselves out, ensure that in obscure environments we're able to adapt, overcome, and be resilient, to be capable of meeting the threats and defending our national security”.

During the 5-day, 24-hour CTE, OC/Ts from 1st Bn., 362nd ADA Regt., observed teams of Guardsmen operating several weapon systems as they conducted numerous simulated and live-fire scenarios, ensuring familiarity and safe practices.

The 1-174th is scheduled to assume the air and missile defense mission in the National Capital Region later this year. The mission was established by the then Secretary of Defense shortly after 9/11 to protect critical infrastructure in the Washington, D.C. area.

“This is a legacy requirement based on the events of September 11 and the attacks that happened,” said Lt. Col. Eric Soler, battalion commander of the 1-362nd. “Immediately after the attacks, active-duty short-range air defense units were deployed to the National Capital Region to provide air and missile defense for several key assets and pillars of government.”

Soler said the mission has evolved over the years and that he and his OC/Ts play a pivotal role in ensuring their National Guard partners are ready to respond to whatever threats they may face.

As the OC/Ts observed teams of Soldiers engaging targets throughout the exercise, the focus was on mastering their unit tactics, techniques, and procedures. But as one OC/T explained, it's the simplest things that can be often overlooked in a stressful environment.

“I would say that they learned the understanding of sticking to the basics, and then actually doing that in the middle of [an engagement],” said Staff Sgt. Marcus Caine, an OC/T with the 1-362nd. “Something as simple as searching and scanning the right way … making sure you got the right tone when you're engaging, because stuff like that is pivotal to a successful engagement. A lot of times they will gear away from that because they get caught up in the black and white of the TTPs.”

The relationship between 1-174th and the 1-362nd OC/Ts is grounded in the expertise and guidance provided during training events such as this, and the leadership was grateful.

“They do an excellent job of meeting the call to be wherever they need to be,” expressed Hatton.

Hatton said he’s come to know a few of the 1-362nd OC/Ts over the years and even though he doesn’t understand fully of what it takes for them to be experts in their craft, he appreciated their hard work during the exercise.

Enduring and trusting partnerships such as this are a hallmark of the success of First Army and its role in preparing National Guard and Army Reserve units for missions around the world. Soler said the 157th is an exceptional part of preparing air and missile defense to meet those global needs.