Air Defense Artillery Branch (United States)

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Air Defense Artillery branch
Branch plaque
Active 1968-present
Country United States
Branch U.S. Army
Type Branch
Role Air and Missile Defense
Nickname(s) Emperor of Battle
Motto(s) "First to Fire"
Colors Red and Gold
March ADA March
Mascot(s) Oozlefinch
Anniversaries 17 November 1775- The Continental Congress elected Henry Knox "Colonel of the Regiment of Artillery"[1]
Branch insignia USAADA-BRANCH.svg

The Air Defense Artillery branch of the US Army specializes in anti-aircraft weapons (such as surface to air missiles). In the US Army, these groups are composed of mainly air defense systems such as the Patriot Missile System, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), and the Avenger Air Defense system which fires the FIM-92 Stinger missile. The Air Defense Artillery branch descended from Anti-Aircraft Artillery (part of the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps until 1950, then part of the Artillery Branch) into a separate branch on 20 June 1968. On 1 December 1968, the ADA branch was authorized to wear modified Artillery insignia, crossed field guns with missile.


According to the Army's Field Manual 44-100, the mission of Air Defense Artillery is "to protect the force and selected geopolitical assets from aerial attack, missile attack, and surveillance."[2]


On 10 October 1917 an Antiaircraft Service in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was created at Arnouville-Les-Gonesse where an antiaircraft school was established. The antiaircraft units were organized as serially numbered battalions during the war, as follows:

  • 1st Antiaircraft Battalion through the 10th Antiaircraft Battalion (redesignated as numbered antiaircraft sectors in November 1918, all demobilized by January 1919)[3]
  • 1st AA Machine Gun Battalion through the 6th AA Machine Gun Battalion. These units were organized by Col. James A. Shipton[4] and were demobilized January–May 1919.[5]
The National Defense Act of 1920 formally assigned the air defense mission to the Coast Artillery Corps, and 4 battalions were organized in 1921. In 1924 under a major reorganization of the Coast Artillery the battalions were reorganized as regiments. There were also 42 Organized Reserve antiaircraft regiments in 8 brigades; however, many of the Reserve units only had a small number of personnel assigned, and many were demobilized without activation during World War II.[6][7][8][9]

In 1938 there were only 5 Regular Army and thirteen National Guard regiments, but by 1941 this had been expanded to 37 total regiments. In November 1942, 781 battalions were authorized. However, this number was pared down to 331 battalions by the end of the war. By late 1944 the regiments had been broken up into battalions and 144 "Antiaircraft Artillery Groups" had been activated; some of these existed only briefly.[11]

The serially numbered battalions bore the following titles:

  • Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion
  • Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion
  • Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion
  • Antiaircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion
  • Barrage Balloon Battalion

and in the 1950s:

  • Antiaircraft Artillery Missile Battalion.

On 9 March 1942 Antiaircraft Command was established in Washington D.C. and in 1944 the AAA school was moved to Fort Bliss.

Army Anti-Aircraft Command[edit]

Army Anti-Aircraft Command (ARAACOM) was created on 29 June 1950. The Army formed it to command the Army units allocated to the air defense of the Continental United States. ARAACOM was also charged with becoming the Army component of a joint continental defense force, if and when the joint force was designated. Eastern and Western Army Antiaircraft Commands were established with HQ at Stewart AFB, New York, and Hamilton AFB, California, on 1 September 1950. Anti-Aircraft Command moved to Mitchel Air Force Base, New York on 1 November 1950.

On 10 April 1951, the Commanding General assumed command of all AAA units allocated to continental air defense—six AW, nine 90-mm. and eight 120-mm. battalions plus four brigade and seven Gp HQ, eight AAA Ops Det and 15 Signal radar detachments. On 24 April Central Army Anti-Aircraft Command was established with HQ at Kansas City, Missouri. It was organized 1 May 1951. By 31 December controlling formations had grown to six brigades and 13 group headquarters. On 31 May 1955 EARAACOM was disestablished and personnel assigned to the 1st AAA Region.[12]

In 1955, numbering started to replace geographic locations to designate regions.[13] The 1st, 2nd and 5th Regions (plus the 53rd Artillery Brigade) now covered the area once called Eastern ARAACOM. In 1956, Western ARAACOM became 6th Region, and the following year, Central became the 4th Region. Areas of responsibility between regions and brigades continued to shift throughout the life of the command.

On March 21, 1957, ARAACOM was renamed to US Army Air Defense Command (USARADCOM).

On 26 July 1960, ARADCOM activated a sixth region.

By 1966 regions and headquarters were as follows:

The NORAD-CONAD History for the first part of 1965 says that the 53d Brigade Headquarters was to move from Maxwell AFB to McChord AFB and the personnel of the discontinued 7th Region transferred to it. The personnel of the 53rd at Maxwell AFB were to be transferred to the 5th Region. The 1st Region Headquarters was also moving from Fort Totten, NY, to Stewart AFB, NY, because Fort Totten was being closed.

On 1 August 1966, Lieutenant General Robert Hackett assumed command of the United States Army Air Defense Command at Ent Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, an assignment he held until he retired 30 June 1968.

In 1957 the Combat Arms Regimental System organized the battalions under regiments again. In 1968 the Air Defense Artillery Branch was created.

ARADCOM strength peaked in 1963, with 184 firing units (134 Regular Army, 50 National Guard). However, beginning in September 1968, the command was reduced in strength. On February 4, 1974, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that ARADCOM would be inactivated, apart from the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, which had been activated during the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962) and would remain on duty in southern Florida. By December 31, 1974, ARADCOM's remaining regional headquarters, eight groups, 13 battalion headquarters, and 48 Hercules firing batteries were closed out. ARADCOM headquarters was inactivated January 4, 1975.

In 2010 the United States Army Air Defense Artillery School was moved from Fort Bliss to Fort Sill.

While army air and missile defense commands are not part of the Branch, there are four active currently:

Brigade size units[edit]

A soldier assigned to the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade's 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment conducting maintenance on a Patriot missile launcher in 2006
Air Defense Artillery Brigades
Brigade SSI Subordinate to/ garrison Component
30th ADA Brigade (ADA School) ADA School SSI.svg Fort Sill Training and Doctrine Command
11th ADA Brigade 11ADABdeSSI.svg Fort Bliss 32nd Army Air & Missile Defense Command
31st ADA Brigade 31ADABdeSSI.svg Fort Sill 32nd Army Air & Missile Defense Command
35th ADA Brigade 35ADABdeSSI.svg South Korea Eighth United States Army / 94th Army Air & Missile Defense Command[21]
69th ADA Brigade 69ADABdeSSI.svg Fort Hood 32nd Army Air & Missile Defense Command
108th ADA Brigade 108 ADA BDE SSI.svg Fort Bragg
Fort Campbell
32nd Army Air & Missile Defense Command
164th ADA Brigade 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.svg Florida Army National Guard
174th ADA Brigade Insignia USA Army Brigade 174 ADA Bde SSI.svg Ohio Army National Guard
678th ADA Brigade US Army 678th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.png South Carolina Army National Guard



Unit DUI Subordinate to/ garrison Component
1-1 ADA
2-1 ADA
1 ADA Rgt DUI.png 35th ADA Brigade Regular Army
A Battery, 2nd ADA
3-2 ADA
2 ADA Rgt DUI.jpg 11th ADA Brigade (A Battery, 2nd ADA)
31st ADA Brigade, Fort Sill (3-2 ADA)
Regular Army
4-3 ADA 3 ADA Rgt DUI.jpg 31st ADA Brigade, Fort Sill Regular Army
A Battery, 4th ADA
3–4 ADA
4 ADA Rgt DUI.jpg 11th ADA Brigade (A Battery, 4th ADA)
108th ADA Brigade (3–4 ADA)
Regular Army
4-5 AMD
5-5 ADA
5ADARegtDUI.gif 69th ADA Brigade (4–5 AMD)
31st ADA Brigade (5–5 ADA)
Regular Army
2–6 ADA
3–6 ADA
6thada-dui.gif 6th ADA Brigade (ADA School), Fort Sill Regular Army
1-7 ADA (P)
5-7 ADA (P)
7 ADA Rgt DUI.jpg 108th ADA Brigade (1–7 ADA)
Kaiserslautern, Germany (5–7 ADA)
Regular Army
1–43 ADA
2–43 ADA
3–43 ADA
43 ADA Rgt DUI.jpg 11th ADA Brigade Regular Army
1–44 ADA
2–44 ADA
44ADARegtDUI.jpg 69th ADA Brigade (1–44th ADA) Fort Hood
108th ADA Brigade (2–44 ADA)
Regular Army
5–52 ADA
6–52 ADA
52ADARegtDUI.jpg 11th ADA Brigade (5–52)
35th ADA Brigade (6–52)
Regular Army
1–56 ADA 56ADARegtDUI.jpg 6th ADA Brigade (ADA School), Fort Sill Regular Army
1–62 ADA 62 ADA Bde DUI.png 69th ADA Brigade, Fort Hood Regular Army
1–204 ADA 204th Air Defense Artillery Regiment Distinctive Insignia.jpg 174th ADA Brigade, Ohio ARNG Mississippi ARNG

Shipton award[edit]

The Shipton Award is named for Brigadier General James A. Shipton, who is acknowledged as the Air Defense Artillery Branch's founding father.[22] Shipton felt that the mission of antiaircraft defense was not to down enemy aircraft, but instead to protect maneuver forces on the ground: "The purpose of anti-aviation defense is to protect our own forces and establishments from hostile attack and observation from the air by keeping enemy aeroplanes [sic] at a distance." The Shipton Award recognizes an Air Defense Artillery professional for outstanding performance individual thought, innovation and contributions that results in significant contributions or enhances Air Defense Artillery's warfighting capabilities, morale, readiness and maintenance.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ TIOH Air Defense Artillery branch page
  2. ^ FM 44-100
  3. ^ Rinaldi, pp. 166-168
  4. ^ Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
  5. ^ Rinaldi, p. 123
  6. ^ Berhow, pp. 437-442
  7. ^ Coast Artillery Regiments 1-196 at CDSG
  8. ^ National Guard Coast Artillery Regiments at CDSG
  9. ^ Organized Reserve and Army of the United States Coast Artillery Regiments at CDSG
  10. ^ Bob MacDonald. "We Aim to Hit". California State Military Museum. California State Military Department. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  11. ^ Stanton, pp. 434-481
  12. ^ Volume 1, 232
  13. ^ Vigilant and Invincible
  14. ^ Morgan and Berhow, 160.
  15. ^ Rings of Supersonic Steel, 173.
  16. ^ Morgan and Berhow, 173.
  17. ^ Freeman, Paul (June 4, 2011) [2002]. "Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Illinois, Northwestern Chicago area". Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. On April 6, 1959, BG Peter Schmick, Brigade CG, announced the purchase of the land, along with plans for the construction of the [Army] Command Post, 5 radar towers and supporting buildings… The official dedication... was made on October 28, 1960. 
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ Mark L. Morgan, Mark A. Berhow, Rings of Supersonic Steel: Air Defenses of the United States Army 1950-1979, p. 153.
  20. ^ Barry Leonard (ed.), History of Strategic and Ballistic Missile Defense: Volume II: 1956-1972, 317
  21. ^ "94th Army Air & Missile Defense Command". Archived from the original on 5 August 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  22. ^ Stiller, Jesse H. (2010). "ADA Branch: A Proud Heritage" (PDF). Air Defense Artillery Online. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 July 2014. 
  • Antiaircraft Artillery Battalions of the U.S. Army (Volumes 1,2) 1991 by James A. Sawicki ISBN 0-9602404-7-0
  • History of the 1st AA Battalion, Coast Artillery Corps in World War I
  • Berhow, Mark A., Ed. (2004). American Seacoast Defenses, A Reference Guide, Second Edition. CDSG Press. ISBN 0-9748167-0-1. 
  • Lieutenant Colonel Roy S. Barnard (The History of ARADCOM Volume I, The Gun Era:1950-1955)
  • LTC Barnard and Berle K. Hufford, ARADCOM Annual Reports from 1966-1973.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Osato, Militia Missilemen: The Army National Guard in Air Defense - 1951 - 1967 (1968)
  • Rinaldi, Richard A. (2004). The U. S. Army in World War I: Orders of Battle. General Data LLC. ISBN 0-9720296-4-8. 
  • Osato and Mrs. Sherryl Straup, ARADCOM's Florida Defenses in the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis: 1963-1968 (1968)
  • Stanton, Shelby L. (1991). World War II Order of Battle. Galahad Books. ISBN 0-88365-775-9. 

External links[edit]