Rocket and air defense units added to US Army’s inventory in Europe
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 30, 2018
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — A long-range artillery unit was reactivated on Friday, just two days after the Army added a new air defense battalion to its inventory in southern Germany.
The 41st Field Artillery Brigade was reconstituted at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, 13 years after being deactivated. The original unit was located in Babenhausen, Germany, from 1972 to 2005.
“Our mission is to provide long range, precision fires to Europe,” brigade commander Col. Seth Knazovich said.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the United States and NATO have boosted defenses in Eastern Europe with rotational units to counter potential Russian aggression. The Army has deployed an armored brigade to Europe on nine-month rotations since 2017.
In March, European Command chief Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told Congress he needed a fires brigade added to the permanent force structure in Europe.
The Multiple Launch Rocket System unit will bring about 1,000 additional soldiers to the area. They are part of the larger push to hike U.S. troop strength in Germany by 1,500 soldiers by 2020 — adding to the more than 33,000 servicemembers already here.
This is the second unit activation in Bavaria this week. The 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment activated on Wednesday in nearby U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach.
The force structure change is a result of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which directed the Army to increase its numbers in Europe in order to defend NATO allies and deter aggression, the Army said in a statement.
Placing the new units in Germany is “a display of our continued commitment to NATO and our collective resolve to support European security,” the statement said.
The new soldiers will begin immediately to integrate with the existing units on their posts, to strengthen the U.S. Army’s mission in Europe, the brigade’s Sgt. Maj. Samuel Zoker said.