31st ADA arrives at Fort Sill; more troops to come - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

31st ADA arrives at Fort Sill; more troops to come

Fort Sill_Since Fort Sill's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) decision was made in 2005, plans have been to have the First Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade headquarters relocate from Fort Bliss, Texas, near El Paso.  On Friday, the brigade arrived.  31st ADA soldiers, their family members, and community leaders, celebrated the historic occasion with an uncasing ceremony on post, giving the brigade a chance to reflect on its rich history and future at the U.S. FIRES Center of Excellence.  The move is a significant one for the FIRES center, and marks the beginning of Air Defense Artillery at Fort Sill, although one brigade's battalions has already been on post for a couple of years. 

The 31st ADA Brigade was born in 1918, and since then, its soldiers have traveled and been stationed around the world:  Germany, Korea, Washington, Florida, Texas - now, Oklahoma.  "[The relocation] starts a new era - and this is historic," said Colonel Dan Karbler with the 31st ADA.  "I'm glad to be at the forefront of the history.  It's fun and exciting." 

The 88 headquarters soldiers are joining its 6-52 ADA Battalion that arrived at Fort Sill in 2006, and two more battalions will soon make the move to join them.  "The brigade is ready to set the bar real high for the rest of the air defense school," said Col. Karbler.  Although they are used to moving around, setting up a home in a new town, in a new state, is never easy for the soldiers and their families.  However, Col. Karbler says his soldiers wives and kids were looking forward to it.  "Every family that came up here was a volunteer that wanted to move from Fort Bliss to Fort Sill," he said.  "I haven't met anybody yet that's not happy with the move.  They love the trees, they love the grass.  You don't get that in El Paso, Texas."

This brigade hasn't seen the last of their former home, though.  Colonel Karbler says they will return approximately every 18 months for live fire training on the PAC-3 Missile System - the Patriot Missile's upgrade.  "We will fire the PAC-3," he said.  "General (Peter) Vangjel(Fort Sill's Commanding General) said we couldn't fire it here on the polo field...I asked him." 

There are only two remaining battalions that need to relocate before the brigade is complete at Fort Sill.  One battalion is at Fort Lewis in Washington, and the other is in Korea.  Before Friday's move, the 31st ADA had been assigned to Fort Bliss since 1996, and prior to that it was assigned to Fort Hood in 1988.

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