Army Air Defense Artillery History: 10 Cool Facts

When we mention Army Air Defense Artillery, what comes to your mind? Personally, I think of anti-aircraft guns, cannons and missiles. But Army Air Defense entails much more.

The history of Army Air Defense Artillery goes back a long way. That is what we will examine in today’s post…10 cool facts about Army Air Defense Artillery history. If you have any history you would like to add to this, feel free to do so in the comments area at the end of this post.

1: The Beginning

There is no exact date of the start, but Army Air Defense Artillery’s roots travel back to just following the Revolutionary War. Before you start yelling at your computer screen that there was no airplanes to defend against at that time, yes you are correct. But the Army Air Defense Artillery grew from the Coast Artillery Corps who were the defenders of the coasts from attacking ships and boats. The War of 1812 gained the Coast Artillery Corps several battle streamers.

It was during World War I that the United States Army recognized a need for anti-aircraft artillery to defend troops from attacks from above. The creation of an Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps was done, and they were still within the Coast Artillery Corps. During World War I, a school was established in France for anti-aircraft artillery. Many of the weapons used were French made, so this school was in the best location. The training was magnificent, as U.S. artillery units used less ammunition, but racked up more kills.

From World War I on, the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps lived up to their motto:

First To Fire

They were the first to defend against the Japanese in Hawaii; they led the way in the Philippines, and the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps were some of the first to land on D-Day to make way for soldiers to get through the German defenses, and to guard from air bombardment.

Yes, it was quite evident that the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps was here to stay.

2: 1968

For years the Army Air Defense Artillery was under the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps. Realizing that this division performed much more than guard the coasts, in 1950, they became a part of the Artillery Branch. It was during the Vietnam War that the Army realized that Air Defense Artillery needed to be a separate entity. On June 20th of 1968, Army Air Defense Artillery became a separate branch. The mission of the Army Air Defense Artillery is stated in Army Field Manual 44-100. It is:

Protect the force and selected geopolitical assets from aerial attack, missile attack, and surveillance.

3: Army Air Defense Artillery Major Commands

These are the 3 major commands of the Army Air Defense Artillery:

  1. 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command Headquarters and Headquarters Battery. Started as the 10th Coast Artillery in 1924 at Fort Adams, Rhode Island, the 10th is now headquartered in Germany. They have 3 decorations which are the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation and 2 Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations.

  2. 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command Headquarters and Headquarters Battery. Their start came in 1918 as Headquarters, 32nd Artillery Brigade, Coast Artillery Corps at Key West Barracks, Florida. Now headquartered at Fort Bliss, Texas, the 32nd has 4 decorations. They are the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, 2 Army Superior Unit Awards and a Meritorious Unit Commendation.

  3. 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command Headquarters and Headquarters Battery. Beginning at Camp Davis, North Carolina, they were the 94th Coast Artillery in 1941. This command is now at Fort Shafter, Hawaii and has 2 decorations. They are the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation and an Army Superior Unit Award.

4: Army Air Defense Artillery Brigades

These are the 2 Brigades:

  1. 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. Started in 1907 at Fort Terry, New York. This brigade is now headquartered at Fort Bliss, Texas.

  2. 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. Started 1918 at Fort Worden, Washington. This brigade is now headquartered in Germany.

5: Army Air Defense Artillery Regiments

Army Air Defense Artillery has many Regiments. They are:

  • 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 6th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

  • 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. Top 11 Army Air Corps Facts
  2. Army 14H MOS: Air Defense Enhanced Early Warning System Operator
  3. Army 140E Warrant Officer: Air and Missile Defense Tactician/Technician
  4. 150A Warrant Officer: Air Traffic Control Technician
  5. Air National Guard vs. Army National Guard: What they Have in Common and How They Are Different

6: Army Air Defense Detachments

There are 3 Army Air Defense Detachments. They are:

  1. 15th Air Defense Artillery Detachment

  2. 238th Air Defense Artillery Detachment

  3. 357th Air Defense Artillery Detachment

7: Army Air Defense Artillery Insignia

This image is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia

When the ADA was deemed a separate branch of the Army, they were able to have their own insignia. Ever since artillery was, they used crossed cannons. The Army Organization Act of 1950 consolidated the coast and field artillery and the used the crossed field guns. In 1957, the design was slightly changed adding a missile between the 2 field guns and making them all gold. This insignia is used by the Army Air Defense Artillery.

8: Army Air Defense and NORAD

As technology has increased, Army Air Defense has had to increase also. ARADCOM stands for United States Army Air Defense Command. While we all know that ARADCOM is a major command of the Army, what many do not understand is it is a component of NORAD. NORAD stands for North American Aerospace Defense Command. So essentially, ARADCOM works jointly with other military branches (namely the Air Force) to defend us from enemies from the air.

9: ARADCOM Regions

ARADCOM works from several regions. The North American regions are:

  • Region 1 at Fort Totten, New York

  • Region 2 at Richards/Gebaur Air Force Base, Missouri

  • and Region 5 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois

  • Region 6 at Fort Baker, California

  • Region 7 at McChord Air Force Base, Washington

10: Army Missile Master Control Systems

There have been movies made and books written about the possibilities of misfired or misguided missiles. The Army and NORAD has a mode of operation for SAGE Air Defense Artillery. SAGE is a computer program that can control all missile or artillery operations. There are 4 modes and they consist of:

  1. MODE 1: This is when the NSDC SAGE takes complete control over all the air defense forces within its sector.

  2. MODE 2: This is when the NSDC SAGE is inoperable, the nearest NSDC SAGE will take control of that sector along with the sector it has responsibility for.

  3. Then MODE 3: If MODE 2 is not functional, a NORAD Control Center Commander will take over control of all sectors that are within the problem areas.

  4. MODE 4: As a last resort, if communications with NORAD Control are non-operational, the individual batteries will operate in an autonomous fashion.

If these MODES are followed, there should be no issues of misfired or misguided air defense systems.

Final Thoughts

As time and technology grows at the pace it has, Army Air Defense Artillery will also have to grow. We have been moving into realms where Wars in space via satellites or other means is inevitable. I am sure that Army Air and Missile Defense is preparing for these possibilities.

When Ronald Reagan was President, he brought to light the Star Wars Defense program. It is this writer’s opinion that we are closer to that than many people realize.

What are your thoughts or opinions? I would love to hear from any of you who are members of an Army Air Defense Artillery unit. I must say that we appreciate all the Air Defenses have done to protect us as a nation. Without them, I would not want to imagine the shape the U.S. would be in.

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