94th AAMDC looks forward to more IAMD excellence

| October 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

Sgt. Kimberly Menzies
Army News Service

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM — With each passing year, Soldiers share the tales of missions past, where they have been and the events they have witnessed.

Few have had the opportunity to convey moments of history where they were part of the spark and then again part of the fighting mission.

For many Sea Dragons, focusing forward on the future means looking back over the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command’s last 10 years.

“I was in the Philippines when my branch manager called and asked me to help set up the 94th AAMDC, a need based on air and missile activity going on in the theater area of operations,” said Brig. Gen. Eric L. Sanchez, the current commanding general of 94th AAMDC.

“I was working at 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery (ADA), 25th Infantry Division,” shared Master Sgt. John Culver, with 94th AAMDC. “At the time, 1-62nd was inactivating, so I called my branch manager to find out where I was going. He said that there was this opportunity because I was an (Air Defense C41 Tactical Operations Center enhanced operator maintainer). They were standing up an AAMDC at Fort Shafter. I decided if it allowed me to stay in Hawaii that I would do it.

“At the request of the first sergeant and commander at the time, I selected 16 additional (enhanced operator maintainers) from the battalion that were willing to go there and then I reported to Fort Shafter,” added Culver.

Sea Dragons

Sea Dragons

After the inactivation of the 94th ADA Brigade in Germany, the Army officially activated the 94th AAMDC, Oct. 16, 2005, at Fort Shafter, under Headquarters, U.S. Army-Pacific (USARPAC), to provide air and missile defense support under the U. S. Pacific Command (USPACOM).

The ceremony marked the activation of the third AAMDC in the U.S. Army, two in the active component and one in the reserve component.

“The unit was reactivated in Hawaii as an AAMDC, as a one star headquarters,” said Sanchez. “When we first stood up, the entire headquarters moved into Bldg. 334 at Fort Shafter, while the headquarters building was being renovated. If I remember correctly, it was condemned at the time, so there were a lot of renovations that were needed.”

“We were relocated right across from the PX (post exchange), but for the first six months, it was assembling office furniture and finding out what to do,” said Culver. “We didn’t know what an AAMDC did.”

The Soldiers soon discovered that the planning aspect was only a portion of the new task.

“It was a big learning curve,” explained Culver. “Being in a tactical environment my entire career and then coming to the strategic level was like getting your masters in air defense because now I was no longer worried about the placement of launchers; I was worried about the entire concept plan for the Pacific. It was really upper-level planning that I had never been around before.”

The Soldiers may have assumed that during the activation of the unit, their main concerns would be where their office or desk would be, but the operational tempo proved that their new assignment would not be that simple.

“In this instance, there were a number of exercises that they wanted us to participate in as soon as we hit the ground,” clarified Sanchez. “Additionally, around this time, the decision was made to put an AN/TPY 2 (Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance-Model 2) radar in Shariki, Japan, a mission that was given to the 94th AAMDC almost immediately upon activation. Also around the same time, the 1-1 ADA (1st Battalion, 1st ADA Regiment) was making its move from Fort Bliss (Texas) to Okinawa (Japan).”

The activation of the 10th Missile Defense Detachment in 2006 at the Shariki Communication Site in Shariki, Japan, was the first new military installation to open in Japan since the end of World War II.

In February 2006, the Army notified 1-1 ADA Bn. of a deployment to Okinawa, Japan, to provide air defense for key assets in the Pacific region, and on Nov. 30, 2006, the 1-1 ADA Regt. was stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Its assigned mission is to conduct air and missile defense operations to neutralize various aerial threats in order to protect critical USPACOM assets on Okinawa.

As time passed and the 94th AAMDC solidified its presence in Asia-Pacific, it grew in size and reputation.

At the time of the activation, it was estimated that 187 Soldiers would be able to staff the command. Today the 94th AAMDC has over 250 Soldiers assigned to the headquarters.

“It went from going to exercises in Korea and Japan and people saying ‘94th what?’ to people coming to us as the experts in missile defense in the Pacific,” said Culver. “Now it is ‘we have a question about BMD (ballistic missile defense)’ or ‘where are we going to put these assets?’ and the response is ‘go ask 94th AAMDC.’ They know who we are now. They know we are the experts.”

The responsibilities of the 94th AAMDC commander include serving as the deputy area air defense commander (DAADC), the senior air defense commander (SADC) and the theater AAMDC coordinator (TAAMDC) for joint and combined operations.

As the DAADC, the 94th AAMDC commanding general is the primary adviser for the Pacific Air Force (PACAF) and the 7th Air Force in support of the Area Air Defense Plan (AADP) and facilitates coordination, communication and operations with all Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) forces within the Pacific Region.

In his role as the SADC, he provides mission command to all forward deployed Army AMD forces and supports the USARPAC commander by providing IAMD oversight.

When acting as the TAAMDC, the 94th AAMDC commander coordinates AAMD in support of the USARPAC commander and the land component.

As the need for BMD continues to expand in Asia-Pacific, the 94th AAMDC continues to evolve to meet those demands.

On April 4, 2013, the Department of Defense made the decision to deploy a terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) battery to Anderson Air Force Base in the U.S. territory of Guam. The 94th AAMDC was tasked with the command and control of the battery. This led to the creation of Task Force Talon, the first ever command and control headquarters for a forward deployed THAAD battery.

Also in 2013, as a result of then PACAF Commander Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle’s vision for an Integrated AMDC of Excellence, the decision was made to relocate the 94th AAMDC headquarters to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH).

As members of the 94th AAMDC staff began constructing the plan for the headquarters move, they also began implementing plans to deploy a second AN/TPY 2 radar. The second radar site would make its home in Kyogamisaki, Japan.

“I was at Fort Bragg, finishing my two years as the first sergeant for HHB, 1-7 ADA (Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 7th ADA Regt.), when I got a call from Maj. Albright, who had been my boss when I was at the 94th AAMDC,” described Culver. “He told me that he was going out to the Kyogamisaki Communication Site (KCS) to stand up this new radar site and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it.

“Of course I said yes,” said Culver. “It is something that I really wanted to be a part of in my career. I was there for the activation of the 94th, I was there for Shariki, and, of course, I wanted to be there for the stand up of KCS, knowing how it completes the picture for ballistic missile defense in the Pacific.”

In preparation for the deployment of the radar, the 10th Missile Defense Battery, in conjunction with its Japan Air Self Defense Force partners, hosted delegations from the Kyoto Prefecture where the delegations were provided with a site tour, mission brief and community relations brief.

The activation ceremony for the 14th MDB took place on Oct. 22, 2014, in Kyogamisaki, signaling the beginning of the 94th AAMDC’s newest radar installation.

“I didn’t really know how quickly in one year it (the site) would get built up,” Culver shared. “I had seen the plans, but when you look at the plans, you think there is no way they can complete all that in a year.”

“It went from a grass field to what it is today, which everything is built except the barracks, in nine months. It was just amazing. At one point, there were so many cranes moving around the field that we didn’t even go on site. It was just too dangerous for us because we didn’t know what pieces were moving where.”

While the cranes were moving the various pieces of the KCS radar site into place, the Soldiers assigned to the 94th AAMDC Headquarters began the move from Fort Shafter to their new home in the PACAF Headquarters at JBPHH.

“Our move is a physical demonstration of our partnership with the Pacific Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Gina Thomas, the deputy automations officer, 94th AAMDC. “We exercise that partnership every day. By us being physically in their headquarters building that demonstrates our commitment to air defense, air superiority in the Pacific and to maintain the shaping operation piece.”

“Every (staff) section played a vital part in the relocation of the command. All the working groups lead by operations, the updates to the deputy commanding officer and the chief of staff, the members of the NCO (noncommissioned officers) Corps and their Soldiers which executed this mission – they were the key to a flawless relocation,” said Sgt. Maj. Kelvin Tomlinson, logistics sergeant major, 94th AAMDC.

Many Soldiers, officers and civilians have contributed to the success of the 94th AAMDC over the last 10 years.

As the unit’s 10-year anniversary approaches, it comes easy to hark back to the memories of remodeling abandoned structures and building upon empty grass fields.

“This is a very memorable time for the 94th AAMDC,” said Sanchez. “The Soldiers, NCOs and officers, both past and present, who have worked hard within our ranks, should be very proud of what has been accomplished. I am.

“They took great care in expanding and refining the task we began 10 years ago. It is through the hard work and the determination of these Sea Dragons that we have been able to provide 10 years of IAMD excellence in the Pacific while remaining combat ready and ‘Focused Forward.’”

(Note: Menzies works with 94th AAMDC Public Affairs.)

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Category: Army News Service, Leadership, News

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