Battery commander Capt. Evan Bicoy and 1st Sgt. Allanmarco Cruz uncase the guidon at a ceremony Oct. 17, 2023, in Vicenza, Italy, marking the reactivation of Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 57th Air Defense Artillery Regiment. The unit became the newest Army short-range air defense battery in Europe. (Brian Erickson/Stars and Stripes)
VICENZA, Italy — The U.S. Army’s latest air defense unit in Europe debuted Tuesday, as a ceremony at Caserma Del Din reactivated a third battery to join its two Germany-based counterparts.
Soldiers from the 57th Air Defense Artillery Regiment’sBattery C stood in formation in front of the 173rd Airborne Brigade headquarters to witness their colors uncased for the first time.
They are part of the newest short-range air defense battery in Europe, which has seen NATO members redoubling their military strength in the wake of the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
“The activation of Charlie Battery underscores our preparedness and determination to defend our airspace and the forces that serve our nation and alongside us in battle,” said Lt. Col. Eric Ackles, commander of 1st Battalion, 57th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.
The , earlier this month. Its two other batteries also are based in Ansbach.
The Italy-based battery brings added firepower to southern Europe and gives a boost to the 173rd Airborne, which also calls Vicenza home and serves as the Army’s quick-reaction force in Europe.
Adding such artillery has been a top priority for the Army in Europe for the past several years as the service rebuilds capabilities that disappeared during the long post-Cold War drawdown.
The battery is part of the Germany-based 52nd Air Defense Artillery Brigade, which was reestablished in 2022 to provide command and control for Army air and missile defense forces in Europe.
“The unit here in Vicenza plays a pivotal role in our defense strategy,” Ackles said. “It is our duty to provide(the battery) with the most advanced and effective defense systems available.”
The SHORAD mission involves the use of artillery and other assets to neutralize low-altitude air threats.
The battery’s history in Europe dates to World War I. Capt. Evan Bicoy, the battery commander, alluded to a return to the unit’s geographical roots.
“We are honored to build off of that legacy ... while bolstering U.S. and NATO air defense capability south of the Alps alongside our allies and partners,” Bicoy said.