From a patch to dirt to fully alert

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daniel Phelps
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Nestled within the hills of Turkey just outside Gaziantep, one of the largest cities in Turkey, Patriot missile batteries and tan and green tents pepper a hillside, serving as watch guards over the Turkish-Syrian border.

The 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery unit from Fort Sill, Okla., arrived at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, on Jan. 4, as part of NATO's commitment to Turkey to augment its air defenses for a cooperative solution to promote regional stability. They stayed on base a couple of weeks before about half of the unit made the convoy down the road to this location to set up camp.

A lot of support has come from the 39th Air Base Wing to prepare for the mission. From off-loading equipment and cargo from 23 C-17 Globemaster III's when the unit arrived to communication support and security, the 39th ABW has contributed thousands of man-hours in support of the NATO Patriot endeavor.

When the soldiers arrived at the site, it was nothing more than a patch of dirt. Now in the cold of winter, fully operational Patriot equipment towers over tents that house various functions.

Partnerships have been key in establishing the site.

"The Turkish army has been very accepting and accommodating of us here," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alarp Gokten, a Turkish translator from the 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

"Though we are bare bones at the moment, our missiles are hot and ready to go," added U.S. Army Capt. Leslie Dembeck, 3-2 ADA Bravo company commander.

Soldiers dig away at the dirt to create walking paths and lay wire for phone lines for communication.

"Seeing the process of the site coming up from scratch to fully operational and almost settled in has been amazing," Gokten exclaimed.

The soldiers work around the clock to ensure everything is ready at a moment's notice. This requires constant checks on the Patriots, computer systems and generators, even in the middle of the night.

"These guys are working hard, sometimes working 24-hour shifts," described U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mike Demps, NCO in charge of Charlie company. "Right now we still have about half our troops still waiting at Incirlik. We're still in the process of getting settled in here."

Though not completely settled in, the soldiers are more than ready to act when called upon.

The 3-2 ADA is here to serve defensive purposes only. They are committed to deterring any threats and defending their NATO partner.

Though the site is currently in a bare-bones state for living conditions, all basic needs are met and the missile system is fully running, Dembeck said. Plans are in the works for the rest of the soldiers and more supplies to arrive on site soon.