MUSTANG, Okla. –
Families and friends joined together to support more than 100 deploying Soldiers assigned to Headquarters Battery, 45th Field Artillery Brigade, during a departure ceremony held in Mustang, Oklahoma, Sunday.
The Citizen-Soldiers are deploying to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility and will be serving as a headquarters for regionally aligned forces as well as operate radar equipment that warns of incoming indirect fire ranging from artillery to rockets and missiles.
Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, adjutant general for Oklahoma, spoke at the departure ceremony, praising the Soldiers for their hard work and dedication while training for the deployment.
“I know you’re ready,” Mancino said. “I know your command has trained you well. I have full faith and confidence in this command.”
Staff Sgt. Dillon Smith, a field artillery radar operator said departure ceremonies like this are an important part of the deployment process for National Guard units because it helps connect local communities and Guard families to the Soldiers’ mission overseas.
“It helps build the community so they all work together to help support your Soldiers and grow,” Smith said. “It’s important to the Soldiers because they know that their family is going to be taken care of.”
Soldiers knowing their families will be cared for by community members, the National Guard’s family programs and fellow Guard families is a key part in ensuring Soldier readiness.
“Our families are critical as a team during this deployment,” said Col. Thomas Gibson, commander of the 45th FAB. “We place a huge emphasis on having a healthy family, participating in family events and incorporating family into our events.”
In addition to the administrative and logistical coordination provided by a headquarters unit, the 45th FAB also includes the target acquisition platoon, charged with detecting and tracking enemy fire.
Based on their military occupational specialities and roles within the unit, Soldiers will have many duties while deployed but many of the Soldiers assigned to the target acquisition platoon will be busy manning radar stations that will help keep fellow Soldiers safe from indirect fire.
“We use our radar system to track cannons, mortars and rockets,” said Staff Sgt. Tyson Chavedo, a field artillery “firefinder” radar operator with the 45th FAB. “We detect rounds fired at a point of origin and can track it all the way to the point of impact. During that time we’ll be able to provide the velocity, the speed, the altitude, the grid from where it came from and where it impacted.”
By tracking the rounds from their point of origin to point of impact, the radar Soldiers are able to relay that information to leadership who will determine the best course of action, whether it be an immediate counter fire mission or future area denial to prevent an enemy from using the same point of origin to strike at U.S. or coalition troops.
Gibson, the 45th FAB commander, spoke with Soldiers and families during the ceremony, thanking the families and Oklahoma community for their sacrifices and supporting his Soldiers as they embark on their deployment.
“Sitting here is the finest group of Soldiers that I’ve had the pleasure to serve with in my 32 years of service,” Gibson said, “I’m proud and honored to take this unit forward and represent the great state of Oklahoma and the United States.”