SHARIKI COMMUNICATIONS SITE, Japan -- Nestled in the northern edge of the Japanese island of Honshu, one small radar site performs a mighty mission.
The Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control Model 2, or AN/TPY-2 forward-based mode radar is operated by U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command trained Soldiers of the 10th Missile Defense Battery. The unit was activated Sept. 26, 2006.
The AN/TPY-2 radar is a transportable X-band, high-resolution, phased-array radar designed specifically for ballistic missile defense and is capable of tracking all classes of ballistic missiles and identifying small objects at long distances. In the forward-based mode, or FBM, the radar directly supports the Ballistic Missile Defense System, or BMDS, by detecting ballistic missiles early in their flight and providing precise tracking information to other BMDS sensors or defensive weapon systems such as the Groundbased-Midcourse Defense system in Colorado, Alaska and California.
"It is important for people to know that while there is not a lot of publicity surrounding us, this is a very important mission that ties directly into homeland defense and how we support the ballistic missile detection architecture," said Maj. John J. Nastus, Shariki Communications Site commander. "We are doing a lot more than defending the homeland, it is also about projecting ourselves in the international community as stewards for our country."
Besides Shariki and another site in Japan, SMDC Soldiers also staff AN/TPY-2 FBM radar batteries in Turkey and U.S. Central Command regions. These FBM radars operate continuously, supporting both homeland and regional missile defense.
"This is a special mission," said Sgt. 1st Class Adam Draper, radar platoon sergeant. "We provide data to numerous entities in the defense of Japan and the homeland. It is a very rewarding job and I am proud to have the opportunity to serve here.
"The most important feature of this site is the Soldiers assigned here," he added. "We all make it happen every day. The Soldiers are dedicated and I am honored to serve with them."
Using the radar, the battery's mission is to track a missile's course and trajectory, and pass that track data to sensor managers operating the Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications system in Hawaii and throughout the homeland.
"We detect any kind of overhead threat in our theater of operations," said 2nd Lt. Daniel Harris, battery executive officer. "The radar provides long-range surveillance and detection of threats to the region and the homeland. We are a very small site with about 50 Soldiers but the mission here has many real-world effects in regards to defense of the homeland. The impact of our footprint is felt around the world."
Harris said the Soldiers walk into work on any given day and never know what is going to happen. He added that the Soldiers' average age is from 18 to 25, and they are the probably the smartest team he has been around.
"It is an incredible feeling knowing that we are protecting so many people," Harris said, "It is very reassuring to know these Soldiers are dedicated because the country is entrusting them to accomplish this important mission. Their job is one that is vitally important, and I know they will not fail."
Soldiers at the 10th MDB, also known as the "Samurai Battery," fall under the command and control of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
As they contemplate their mission, Soldiers say they understand the importance of their role and how important it is to be prepared at all times for the defense of the nation.
"I take a lot of pride in my job," said Pfc. Onil Almanzar, fire control enhanced operator and maintainer. "It is very important that we protect our assets from airborne threats. Being a part of this air defense enterprise is a unique mission and this is definitely a no-fail mission we conduct here.
"Japan is a great place to be," he added. "Everyone is friendly and the Japanese treat us all as one of their own. The Soldiers are all close and we look after each other. We are a close family here and it is great to serve with them."