Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joe Cashion, 108th Public Affairs Detachment
Photo by Sgt. Brian Calhoun, 108th Public Affairs Detachment
WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the third time in the last eight years, the South Carolina National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 263rd Air Defense Artillery, 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, based in Anderson, S.C., has been tasked with guarding the skies over our nation’s capital. The unit assumed the ground-based air defense responsibility of the National Capital Region (NCR) during a battle handoff ceremony taking place at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, April 28.
“The first priority is to defend the homeland, and that’s what we do,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Glenn Bramhall, commander, 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command.
“To me, this is a very important mission as we allow our senior key leaders to conduct their business without having to worry about homeland security.”
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks on United States soil, the National Capital Region Integrated Air Defense System was established to protect the nation’s key leaders and facilities critical to the operation of this country.
Task Force Tiger, as it is known, is the 13th rotation for Army National Guard units since 2003, as the 2-263rd ADA previously served on point in the NCR in 2006 and 2011. In addition to the 2-263rd ADA, Task Force Tiger will be comprised of Air Force and Coast Guard elements as well – all working together to secure our nation’s capital.
“I look forward to working with all of you over the next year,” said Col. Frank Rice, Task Force Tiger commander. “The 2-263rd ADA has proven to be a capable and disciplined battalion with exceptional leadership.”
The air defense homeland mission is unique and extremely important to the security of this country. Soldiers spend years preparing for it, usually culminating with a major training event which the 2-263rd ADA performed at Fort Bliss, Texas, in early April.
Responsibility of securing the NCR is a 24 hours per day, seven days per week mission where at a moment’s notice ground-based air defenses would be activated to protect the nation’s capital from air attack.
As they once again assume the mission, the 2-263rd ADA takes over from 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery, North Dakota National Guard.
“I have truly been fortunate to have been surrounded by the best leaders and Soldiers I’ve ever had the pleasure to serve with in my 20 year military career,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Erickson, commander of the 1-188th ADA.
For his part, Lt. Col. Marion Collins, commander of the 2-263rd ADA, is looking forward to picking up where 1-188th ADA left off.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever receive an assignment like this,” said Collins. “This is as good as it gets.”
Collins also had high praise and expectations for his Soldiers, as well as himself, over the coming year.
“The Soldiers that I have here, that I have the opportunity to lead and interact with are the best,” Collins said. “It has really motivated me to work harder and live up to their expectations. I’m here to serve them as they serve this great nation of ours.”