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‘Strike Fear’ prepares to deploy to Afghanistan

by Sgt 1st Class Pete Mayes, 101st Sustainment Brigade

The day has finally arrived.

The colors have been cased, and the rapid-fire training is complete. Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 101st Sustainment Brigade, are now heading to Afghanistan Friday for their upcoming deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The months leading up to Tuesday’s casing have been quite eventful for the unit. The battalion was slated to be de-activated this September, but have since been extended until 2017. They’re suddenly preparing to play a crucial role in helping prepare Afghanistan security forces take the next step in taking care of themselves.

2-44th Air Defense Artillery Battalion Commander LTC Thomas Nguyen cases the colors as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The battalion had been scheduled to de-activate for nearly five years before being re-activated earlier this year. - Photo by Capt. Shannon Clark | 2-44th Ada

Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Thomas Nguyen said the unit will conduct a “non-standard Air Defense mission.” Instead of conducting counter Artillery Defense or avenger Air Defense operations,  the battalion will focus on training the Afghan National Police and Afghan Army on basic soldiering skills.

“This will be a NATO training mission and we will be there in support of ISAF,” Nguyen said. “The main effort is to train the Afghan security forces in the near term and having them ready to train themselves in the future.”

“Strike Fear” is the most deployed Air Defense Battalion in its corps, according to Nguyen. It’s lineage can be traced back to World War II.

The battalion had been listed on the Army’s de-activation list for nearly five years and was set to case its colors for the final time in September 2011. Nguyen said he believes President Barack Obama’s proposed surge of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan might have played a role in the battalion getting a reprieve.

The commander said the battalion has also shown itself to be able to adjust fire under the many circumstances the recent year brought it.

Soldiers of the 2-44th “Strike Fear” Air Defense Artillery Battalion ready their weapon for firing during training back in Feb. 2010.
Soldiers of the 2-44th “Strike Fear” Air Defense Artillery Battalion ready their weapon for firing during training back in Feb. 2010.

“The Soldiers here have demonstrated a lot of flexibility and adaptability,” he said. “We’re very confident that we can execute this mission to standard.”

During the battalion’s casing ceremony, Nguyen reminded his Soldiers of their storied history and their upcoming mission. He also continued to reiterate to them the importance of being flexible.

“We’re going there to support the ISAF strategic main effort. To help get ourselves out of Afghanistan, we’ve got to go there and help train trainers to support their Soldiers and leaders,” he said.

“Second, I encouraged them to stay adaptive and flexible, because that’ll be needed when we go downrange to be successful. Even as we speak, the training mission is ambiguous, so it will a point of determining the mission once we hit the ground,” he said.

Nguyen said he’s asking a lot from the Soldiers to be this flexible.

“As we talk to them and try to settle the dust as much as possible, they’re very resilient,” he said. “They’re pumped up to support this mission. They do understand that they will step to the plate and do the task asked of them.

The battalion will leave this July Fourth weekend. Nguyen said it will be hard on the Soldiers and their Families, but he looks forward to reuniting with the Families this same time next year.


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