The US Army is working on rebuilding a short-range air defence (SHORAD) capability to defend manoeuvre units against aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and cruise missiles.
Air Defense Artillery School commandant colonel Mark Holler said that the service deactivated most of the SHORAD battalions a decade ago in view of the need for manoeuvre brigade combat teams for counter-insurgency operations.
The renewed focus on SHORAD units is due to the need for significant capability and capacity to stand up to the might of adversaries. Holler added that the army realised this during the conflict in Ukraine.
Efforts to re-establish the units will be driven by bringing back the Avenger, which was developed in the 1980s and first entered service with the army in 1990.
Avenger features a modified HMMWV with a turret on top and two pods of Stinger missiles.
In recent years, the systems have been assigned to the National Guard or stored in depots. Last year, the army reactivated 72 Avengers from Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania.
The service aims to re-establish ten SHORAD battalions to protect critical assets within each of its divisions. The first four of these ten units are planned to be opened by 2024.
The plan is to eventually upgrade these battalions from Avengers to the new Manoeuvre SHORAD (M-SHORAD) on a Stryker platform.
M-SHORAD system consists of two hellfire missiles, a 30mm chain gun, a 7.62 machine gun and four Stinger missiles.
As part of the plans to establish SHORAD battalions, the army is offering a five-week pilot course on Stinger air defence missiles for soldiers in manoeuvre units.
The five-week class involves teaching infantry and armour soldiers about the man-portable air defence system (MANPADS). It will serve as a stop-gap arrangement to protect manoeuvre units from threats.
The training course certifies soldiers to operate the Stinger MANPADS missile launcher in two-man teams.