You know what they say: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a FIM-92 Stinger is a good guy with a FIM-92 Stinger. OK, they don’t say that, but the U.S. Army has announced that the Stinger missile is indeed making a comeback.
In a press release, the service said that, for the first time in almost 15 years, the 7th Army Training Command’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) will start training soldiers using the FIM-92 Stinger missile system during future exercises. To get ready for this, around 50 OC/T (Observer Coach/Trainer) teams underwent their own training on the system at Hohenfels Training Area in Germany on Jan. 10.
Lt. Col. Aaron Felter, the director of training and doctrine for the Air Defense Integrated Office, said the move comes as a result of a directive from Chief of Staff of the Army Mark A. Milley.
“Based on the Chief of Staff of the Army’s initiative, getting Europe stood up with short-range air defense (SHORAD) Stinger teams is his first priority inside the initiative of getting Stinger teams back online,” Felter said. “We’re going to go to the National Training Center and the Joint Readiness Training Center, however, the immediate focus is Europe and getting Europe ready to fight tonight and defend Europe against any adversary.”
As Task & Purpose points out, “any adversary” essentially means Russia, which in 2014 annexed the Crimea from the Ukraine and has been flexing its muscle in eastern Europe ever since. The publication also points out that the return of the Stinger missile comes amid a buildup of forces under U.S. Army Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
According to the Army presser, instructors from Fort Sill’s Fires Center of Excellence made the trek to Hohenfels Training Area in Germany to impart their knowledge on the Stinger missile system. Felter was joined by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen Ford and Sgt. 1st Class Edward Goldman—instructors with the 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade—for hands-on direction for the system which will be brought back into Army brigade combat teams.
Shift Back to the Stinger Missile
First introduced in the late 70s, the Army shifted away from using the FIM-92 Stinger in favor of “counterinsurgency tactics.”
However, it’s now a top priority for the service, Felter said.
“Bringing back the Stinger addresses a self-identified gap that the Army created and has recognized,” Felter added. “We’re getting back to the basics and providing short range air defense to maneuver units.”
Capt. Richard Tran, Headquarters Company OC/T for the Warhog Team at JMRC, said he’s ready to share what he learned with the JMRC OC/T teams who couldn’t make it to the training.
“I have a much better picture of how to go about observing, coaching and training Soldiers,” said Tran. “I’m better equipped after this class. Initially some of these Stinger teams who rotate through JMRC won’t be completely up to speed with the Stingers. They’re riflemen who cross-trained to operate the system. It will be our job to help guide them along this learning process.”
During training at JMRC, the two-man Stinger teams will be evaluated based on several categories. Those include site placement, determining air avenues of approach, defending critical locations, de-conflicting enemy aircraft engagements based on sector of fire, and proper operation of the FIM-92 Stinger missile.
“In parallel efforts, the goal is to get 62 Stinger teams into the operational force as soon as possible,” Felter said. “In concert with that, additional SHORAD battalions are being stood up, which will result in aligning one SHORAD battalion with each division.”