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Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery uncase the unit’s colors for the first time on Okinawa during an activation ceremony at the 18 Wing’s headquarters on Kadena Air Base on Thursday.
Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery uncase the unit’s colors for the first time on Okinawa during an activation ceremony at the 18 Wing’s headquarters on Kadena Air Base on Thursday. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — The 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery formally acknowledged its 7,000-mile journey from Fort Bliss, Texas, to Okinawa in a Thursday activation ceremony in front of Kadena’s 18th Wing headquarters.

The unit is the first battalion on Okinawa able to operate PAC-3 defensive missiles, said Brig. Gen. John E. Seward, commander for the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. The unit brought with it more than 400 pieces of equipment including the missiles and about 450 soldiers and their families, according to a unit spokesman.

Maj. Kevin Ciocca, battalion operations officer, said plans are for the missiles to be operational “at the earliest possible time.”

Johnathan Monroe, Kadena Air Base spokesman, cited force-protection requirements in declining to discuss when the missiles might be operational.

Ciocca said, “The ceremony has nothing to do with the readiness of the PAC-3 equipment nor does it indicate the moving of the equipment to any operational location on Kadena.”

The activation ceremony drew no visible demonstrations in its immediate area. Previous actions involving the PAC-3 missiles’ arrival have drawn protests by Okinawans and others opposing the U.S.-Japanese decision to locate the defensive missiles on the island.

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