Short-range air defense training at 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area

Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Kathleen V. Polanco
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An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) known as the RQ-11 Raven, was flying in the clear blue sky over the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area while Soldiers were practicing short-range air defense (SHORAD) techniques during the Maneuver-Stinger (M-Stinger) course, Aug. 29.

The Chief of Staff of the Army directed the Army to execute a plan to increase SHORAD assets in maneuver formations based on the rising threat capabilities using Unmanned Aircraft Systems, fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and cruise missiles.

The M-Stinger course is the first line of effort of SHORAD integration.

“This course really addresses a capability that’s needed here in Europe, primarily to fix some of the gaps we have with short-range air defense,” said Brig. Gen. Randall McIntire, the air defense artillery commandant. “So as we try to grow the air defense artillery and reduce the risk to the maneuver force, this became imperative to train the maneuver force on stinger operations.”

Six Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and 20 from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2CR) were the first Soldiers in the Army to receive SHORAD training brought to Europe from the Air Defense Artillery School in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

The five-week course, July 31 to September 1, is the same course that initial entry Soldiers would go through to be awarded the Air and Missile Defense Crewmember (14P) military occupational specialty.

“We’re teaching non air defense soldiers how to fire an air defense weapon system and complete an air defense mission,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Gonzales, an M-Stinger instructor.

The course curriculum included subjects like visual aircraft recognition, targeting engagement and destroying enemy targets and tactical employment of the weapon system.

The culminating event required the students to employ all tactics learned as well as to be able to brief those tactics to their commander.

“From what we learned in the course, we can explain to them how to use it and how to use us,” said Sgt. Nicolas Kotchenreurther, a student from 2CR.

Gaining the new skill isn’t for just any Soldier; they would need to fit certain criteria that would make them the best fit to operate the 36-pound Stinger Missile weapon.

“The students in the course need to have the mental agility to be able to think on their feet,” said 1LT Shawn Martinez, the officer in charge of the course. “The decisions they make with this weapon system has a very big impact, so they need to be responsible and smart enough to identify types of aircraft and to distinguish between enemy and friendly aircraft.”

The newly trained Soldiers gained a new skill that makes them even more valuable to their units.

“It allows the army to develop new capabilities and build platforms for future forces,” said McIntire. “What we’re doing today is initial steps to restoring old capability and adapting it to meet our purposes today with the intent of bringing on new and improved capabilities in the future.”

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