SIMI VALLEY, CA -- Pentagon leaders are concerned about the health of the Army's Patriot force, particularly the stress that high operational tempo and limited deployment predictability is having on readiness, driving soldiers to leave units that provide the cornerstone of air and missile defense for deployed forces and allies.
A senior defense leader here said the Army is paying attention to the negative impacts on solider readiness and family well-being associated with high demand for the service’s main air- and missile-defense system.
“Our Patriot units are very stressed,” said the senior defense official Dec. 4 on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum. “We are seeing significant attrition out of that part of our force structure because the [personnel tempo] has been so demanding for the people who are in those kinds of units.”
The Army has 15 Patriot battalions. In June, the Army’s top air- and missile-defense officials told lawmakers that eight of these units were forward stationed or deployed -- although some units in Saudi Arabia were redeployed in August.
“We have got to rebuild readiness in the Patriot force and we've got to give those people a more sustainable way of living,” said the official. “I think part of that may mean: Do we need to grow some additional Patriot capability and capacity so that we can kind of take the pressure off the existing set of folks? I think there are a few things we're going to have to do.”
In addition to withdrawing units, such as those from Saudi Arabia, the stress on the force “may be ameliorated by building some additional structure,” the official said.