| 2d Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion History
2d Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion (2d LAAD) evolved from a series of organizational and equipment transitions spanning over three decades. As our nation's threat of high performance aircraft increased during the post-Korean War era, technologies to counter that threat were developed during the early 1960's. Consequently, the Marine Corps adopted the Redeye missile system as its first lightweight, man-portable, shoulder fired, guided missile system. In June of 1966, the Redeye Gunners School was activated at Marine Corps Base, Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., and began training Marine Redeye gunners for service in the Fleet Marine Force. Shortly there after, Redeye platoons were manned in each of the three active and one reserve Marine divisions. 2d Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion has its origin from the 2d Redeye Platoon, which was assigned under the 2d Marine Division.
On 26 February 1969, an official Table of Organization was established for the Forward Area Air Defense (FAAD) Platoon. As a result of a decision to group all anti-air warfare assets under the command and control of the tactical air commander, the 2d FAAD Platoon was transferred to Marine Air Control Group 28, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing. From 1969 to 1983, 2d FAAD Platoon was assigned under the operational and administrative control of three commands: Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron 28, Marine Air Support Squadron 1, and the 3d Light Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion. Based on a Headquarters Marine Corps initiative to strengthen close-in air defense assets in support of each Marine Air Ground Task Force, a decision was made to activate the 2d FAAD Battery, which eventually consisted of a service platoon and five firing platoons.
In October of 1983, 2d FAAD Battery was allowed to stand-alone and assume its rightful place among the eight units comprising Marine Air Control Group 28. 2d FAAD Battery became an integral participant in all training exercise commitments of the Marine Air Command and Control System as well as contingencies in Beirut, Lebanon and Honduras. During this period, 2d FAAD Battery also began its support of Landing Force, 6th Fleet, Marine Amphibious Units.
On Aug. 8, 1986, the unit was expanded into a battalion comprised of a headquarters and service battery, and two firing batteries. Since its activation, 2d LAAD Battalion has remained heavily committed around the globe. The battalion has continuously provided LAAD detachments to the 22nd, 24th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units. Participating in numerous CONUS exercises from the Carolinas to California and every NATO exercise from Turkey to Northern Norway, 2d LAAD Battalion has remained at the forefront providing sound low altitude air defense.
In August 1990, at the outset of the Iraqi invasion into Kuwait, the battalion deployed one firing battery in support of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which immediately set sail to the Persian Gulf. Subsequently, the remainder of the battalion, augmented by a reserve firing battery from 4th LAAD Battalion, deployed to Southwest Asia in January of 1991 in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The battalion was designated as the Marine Air Command and Control Systems Unit of the Year for 1991 and received the prestigious "Edward S. Fris Award". Following Operation Desert Storm, detachments from the battalion participated in Operation Provide Comfort in Northern Iraq and Operation Safe Harbor in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In May 1994, 2d LAAD Battalion received its first two of 60 Avengers and began conducting Avenger new equipment training with instructors from Fort Bliss, Texas. As a result of a Headquarters Marine Corps decision to approve Annual Service Practice firings of basic Stinger missile stocks, the battalion participated in live firing exercises at Fort Bragg and Onslow Beach, N.C. beginning in September 1993. The battalion continues to participate in annual live firing exercises at Onslow Beach, North Carolina. 2d LAAD continually deploys to support Weapons and Tactics Instructor courses, Combined Arms Exercises, Red Flag, Express Sword, Battle Griffin, and Dynamic Mix.
In 1999, 2d LAAD Battalion's 26th MEU Marines were first in the Marine Corps to take combat loaded Avengers into a combat environment during operation ALLIED FORCE in Kosovo as well as participate in operations JOINT GUARDIAN off Albania and AVID RESPONSE in Turkey. During the operations in the Balkans, a section from 2d LAAD supported the 26th MEU and landed in Kosovo with the battalion landing team. The section provided air defense and perimeter security for the BLT against night and sniper attacks.
In July 1999, 2d LAAD Battalion hosted the first Short Range Air Defense Working Committee and was involved in the continued development of the Complementary Low Altitude Weapon System by sending Marines to Fort Bliss, Texas and Quantico, Virginia. Battalion Marines were deployed in support of Combined Arms Exercise at Twenty-nine Palms and were the first to integrate Variable Message Format (VMF) with the Expeditionary Air Defense System. The battalion continues to meet the needs of today's Corps in light of new demands and current on-hand strength of approximately 300 Marines.
In 2000, 2d LAAD Battalion continued it's intensive operational tempo by supporting Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course at Yuma, Ariz., and continued support of Combined Arms Exercise evolutions. Additionally, 2d LAAD Bn. supported numerous 2d Marine Division exercises, most notably exercise Rolling Thunder at Fort Bragg working with 10th Marine Regiment. As a result of its performance, the Battalion was selected as the Marine Air Command and Control Unit of the year, receiving the prestigious Edward S. Fris Award for the year 2000.
In July 2001, the Battalion initiated quarterly amphibious training at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., to enhance Battalion amphibious Mission Essential Task Listing proficiency.
In August 2001, the Battalion initiated Atlantic Undersea Testing and Evaluation Center, Andros Island, Bahamas training with the US Navy's Sea Control Weapons School. They successfully addressed Battalion Mission Essential Task Listing deficiencies in air defense operations at sea while also providing training for Navy helicopter crews against surface-to-air missile threats.
In September 2001, the Battalion was again heavily deployed. The Battalion reacted admirably to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and had its 26 Marine Expeditionary Unit Detachment deployed ashore in support of combat operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 2d LAAD Battalion initiated, planned, and accomplished incorporation of LAAD and other Marine Air Control Group elements into exercise Battle Griffin 1-02, held in Norway in February and March 2002 in support of Marine Air Ground Task Force 2. The Battalion planned and coordinated all aspects of Air Combat Element participation in the exercise, including months of pre-environmental and pre-deployment training required for deployment to the Artic. The Battalion used the exercise as an opportunity to demonstrate North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) interoperability with NATO Land Group 5; the effort involved integration of USMC Stinger with Norwegian air defense assets and the Battalion exercising operational control of a Norwegian man-portable air defense weapons platoon and a "Giraffe" sensor platoon. The testing achieved at Battle Griffin set the standard for all future NATO SHORAD interoperability exercises and testing.
In April 2002, the Battalion conducted its second live missile fire exercise (FIREX) of the year. Solely based upon 2d LAAD Battalion's initiative, the FIREX was used as an opportunity to research and evaluate alternative target resources and Stinger Reprogram able Microprocessor (RMP) missile performance against a variety of non-traditional targets. Use of the alternative targets generated savings of approximately $90,000 in contractor support for this 30 missile shoot. The research conducted during the FIREX has the potential of generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings for the Marine Corps in annual LAAD target and target support costs.
In February of 2005, the Marines of 2d LAAD deployed in direct support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. The Marines ran convoys, provided security and worked directly in support of security and stability operations. The unit performed magnificently as the Marine Corps Security Battalion aboard and operating from Al Asad Air Base in Iraq until their return in September 2005.
In November 2005, Marines from 2d LAAD Bn supported the 24th MEU. The Stinger section provided air defense through the Suez Canal, Strait of Gibraltar, and the Strait of Hormuz. In July 2006 the section participated in the evaluation of Lebanon. They section also took part in exercises in Jordan and Kuwait.
In June 2006, 2d LAAD Bn supported the 26th MEU and was designated as MEU HQ Security Element. The provided Convoy security and security for MEU Headquarters personnel. They also participated in exercises Edged Mallet, Eastern Maverick, and Infinite Moonlight.
In February of 2007, The Marines of 2d LAAD deployed once again in direct support of the security and stability operations in the Iraq.
The Battalion provided interior and external Base Security for Al Asad Airbase. The Battalion conducted over 600 Mounted Combat Patrols, and 1100 Perimeter Patrols. Over 103,000 vehicles and 250,000 personnel passed through Entry Control Points one and two. The Military Police Battery conducted over 2900 vehicles check points, 4200 Walking Patrols, and over 300 Compound Searches.