Patriot units to rotate at battalion level
May 3, 2007
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The U.S. Army Patriot missile unit on the peninsula soon will make troop rotations that will keep battalion-sized units together for a full tour, officials said.
Until now, the U.S. Army in South Korea rotated its Patriot battalions piecemeal, several batteries at a time.
“Now, this time, that whole unit lock, stock and barrel is going to rotate,” said Army Col. John G. Rossi, commanding officer of the Osan-headquartered 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
None of the rotations will result in any decrease in troop strength, and Patriot troops will be kept at the usual levels of readiness during rotations, Rossi said.
Replacements will come in what is called a “tactical relief in place,” Rossi said. Troops will rotate but missiles and other inventory will stay put.
The larger-sized rotation will help maintain unit cohesion by keeping gunnery crews, supervisors and other leaders together as a working team, brigade officials said.
And it’ll help ensure all battalion members are trained, equipped, managed, and ready for whatever deployment they may encounter, they said.
“They come in as a team and they leave as a team,” Rossi said.
It also will be a break for soldiers and their families because they’ll know well ahead of time that a deployment is scheduled and how long it’s expected to last, he said.
The change comes after Army brass decided several months ago to make Patriot units part of a new cyclical process that gets units trained and ready for global deployment. Known as Army Force Generation, the method is now in use with brigade combat teams rotating in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
But whereas those rotating units drawn from infantry and armored divisions are packaged these days in brigade size, the Patriot units will be packaged at the smaller, battalion-size, said Rossi.
“A lot of [commanders] want Patriots and there’s only so many Patriot units,” Rossi said. “This is probably the best way to meet the need, the Army leadership has decided.”