[ IN THE MILITARY ]
ARMY PHOTO BY STAFF SGT. KIMBERLY GREEN
Col. John E. Steward, right, commander of the 94th Air and Missile Defense Command, accepts colors from Lt. Gen. John M. Brown III, commanding general, U.S. Army Pacific, during the formal activation of the unit Oct. 14 at Fort Shafter.
Isles get missile command
Fort Shafter opens a new headquarters for Army air defense
The Army stepped up last month in meeting the security challenges in the Asia-Pacific Rim with the activation of a new headquarters designed to coordinate its air and ballistic missile defense needs.
On Oct. 14, Col. John Steward unfurled the yellow and scarlet colors of the 94th Air and Missile Defense Command at Fort Shafter, marking the activation of the Army's third air and missile command.
The two others are the 32nd Air and Missile Defense Command at Fort Bliss in Texas -- the Army's air defense headquarters -- and the 263rd Air and Missile Command -- an Army Reserve and Army National Guard unit in South Carolina, said Col. Kelvin Bright, chief of staff for the Fort Shafter unit.
The South Carolina unit includes the 263rd Air Defense Artillery Brigade, whose wartime mission is to provide command and control of three Patriot battalions and one short-range air defense battalion. This command was scheduled to deactivate in 1997, but was reorganized into a theater level Air Missile Command in May 2000.
The South Carolina unit is also equipped with Avenger missiles -- the Army's state of the art short-range air defense system -- and an attack helicopter battalion (one of three in the Army National Guard equipped with the state of the art AH-64 Apache helicopters), an aviation lift company (UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters), and an aviation maintenance detachment.
The Fort Shafter unit is mainly a headquarters command element, Bright said, and eventually will be staffed with 187 soldiers.
Its mission is to give Adm. William Fallon, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, utilization of the Army's short-range Patriot air-defense missiles as well as its Avenger and Stinger missile capabilities.
Some of the equipment and soldiers of the new Fort Shafter unit were members of the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery, which was deactivated this summer.
The new Fort Shafter missile headquarters is part of the Army's continuing effort to convert U.S. Army Pacific into a war-fighting headquarters and restructure its entire force to be more modular so it can be packaged to meet future joint or multinational peace time or combat operations.
When called into combat in the Pacific, the headquarters would command artillery and missile units drawn from various units throughout the world, Bright said.