Story by: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Broderick Hennington
FORT HOOD, Texas – On Friday morning, June 24th, during a ceremony on Cooper Field. Lt. Col. Sam Pearson III assumed command of the 6th Battalion, 56th Air Defense Artillery, Division Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division, which received orders to re-activate this summer to provide air defense capabilities to the division.
During his remarks, Pearson commended his formation for their hard work, dedication, and effort throughout this historic undertaking.
“Today marks a page in Air Defense history as we activate the first Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense Battalion within a Division,” Pearson said with a smile on his face. “I would also be remiss if I did not thank the Soldiers, NCOs and Officers that have worked tirelessly toward the goal of building 6-56 from the ground up.”
The activation of the 6th Battalion, 56th Regiment includes the fielding of the Mobile Short Range Air Defense System (M-SHORAD) and is part will aid in defending the division and subordinate units against the threat of enemy aircraft, drones and cruise missiles.
“This is a huge day for the First Team,” said Col. Neil Snyder, Division Artillery commander, 1st Cavalry Division. This ceremony marks a step forward for the division. Today we get more modern and more lethal. M-SHORAD, is a new capability, which brings a new formation and a new platform.”
This activation ceremony is also significant because it is the first time the battalion colors have been uncased since it was deactivated in Germany.
According to the previous Air Defense Artillery School commandant, most SHORAD battalions in the active component were deactivated a decade ago to support the formation of maneuver brigade combat teams to support counter-insurgency operations.
The arrival of this new battalion brings unique capabilities to the Division Artillery Brigade and will enable the division to dominate across multiple domains on the battlefield.
“I may be a field artilleryman by training and profession, but I’m a believer in air defense,” said Snyder. “I believe this formation will be the most lethal formation in the division. Soon the 1st CAV will not just win with fire support and dominate on the ground, but also own the air.”
As the ceremony concluded, Pearson reminded his Troopers that there is more to be done, and he excited to be in the fight with the most modern armored division in the U.S. Army.
“Change is constant, and with change we must adapt,” Pearson concluded. “The 6-56 is placed at the cutting edge of change in Air Defense. As our adversaries continue to hone their skills in conflicts across the globe, so too must we refine our skill set and capabilities to defeat our adversaries and win our Nation’s wars. I look forward to witnessing the history you Soldiers write for this storied battalion. First Team, Win with Fires, Night Hides Not!”
Over the next few years, the 1st Cavalry Division will modernize as a warfighting unit to include redesigning the division headquarters, armored brigade combat teams, engineer units and artillery formations. The division has already begun integrating modern warfighting equipment including M1A2SEPV3 tanks, M109A7 Paladins and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, all of which will increase the division’s capability and maneuverability during large scale combat operations against near-peer adversaries.