Fortunately, the same instrument that had brought about the demise of the balloon bow provided a replacement: the fixed wing aircraft. Although the Wright brothers had first flown in 1903 and the US Army had bought its first airplane in 1909, by the end of World War I it had had 39 aerosquadrons in action against the enemy. They had performed "pursuit" (fighter), bombardment and observation missions, all of primitive type, using mostly open cockpit biplanes.
But enough had been learned to make it clear that the fixed wing aircraft (helicopters were way in the future) was the device to develop. When the Army Air Corps was created by Act of Congress in 1926, it began to develop specialized types of aircraft to perform its several functions. For observation a tandem two-seater, open cockpit biplane was generally used. Rather heavy, it required a hard surface runway or its near equivalent. The Air Corps furnished the plane and pilot for observation of artillery fire while the field artillery furnished the observer. Doctrine specified that such observation planes should be attached to corps and from there allotted to subordinate units on a mission-by-mission basis as the situation dictated.
The two branches quickly worked out a suitable technique. During 1930 to 1932, at Ft. Bliss, TX, the duties of the reconnaissance officer of the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion (Horse) of the 1st Cavalry Division included those of battalion air observer. The observers went aloft in an Air Corps plane and adjusted artillery fire during target practice at the Dona Ana Firing Range in New Mexico. Adjustments were routinely rapid and accurate, though slowed somewhat by the use of Morse code instead of radio telephone.
But, however adequate the technique, there were serious and fatal flaws in the arrangement just described. The plane furnished was always a fairly heavy type requiring a hard surface runway or near equivalent; it therefore had to be based at an airport or temporary field some distance to the rear, "on call." When the call for aerial support was made, the pilot had first to find the artillery unit that was to serve, since the artillery often had moved since the last mission.
The observer, whether Field Artilleryman or Air Corps observer, was likewise in the dark as to gun position and target location; this had to worked out by radio after the plane was airborne. As an alternate situation, the observer could be stationed between missions at the guns, and thus have all the information he needed, but the delay due to his travel overland from guns to airfield to begin the mission was unacceptable.
All this was well-known to every artilleryman and much complaining was done,
but little else. In 1939 war broke out in Europe, and by 1940 military
activity in the United States was increasing by leaps and bounds, and it
seemed likely that the United States would eventually be drawn in. A need for
an operational requirement and the search for a solution for better air
observation grew in intensity, led by chief of Field Artillery, Major General
Robert M. Danford. The potential requirement attracted the attention of the
three leading light aircraft manufacturers; Aeronca, Piper, and Taylorcraft.
Aggressive businessmen, they got into the act and placed one or more civilian
aircraft with company pilots, at the disposal of every senior commander in
large scale Army maneuver divisions.
Later in the year, in the second 3rd Army LOUISIANA MANEUVERS (05 August to 08
October), the War Department approved the trial use of light planes for
"control of troop movements, scout, patrol, drop bombs, ferry personnel, carry
messages, and observe artillery fire". At his own expense, William T. Piper
Sr., supplied eight new J-3 Cub airplanes equipped with radios, and a
contingent of factory pilots and mechanics. This civilian fleet, called
"Grasshoppers", operating through the trying days of the summer and fall
maneuvers, proved the flexibility and capability of the light planes to be
much more effective than the larger planes used for the same purposes. The
After Action reports on the maneuvers called for the investigation of their
Subsequently, the adaptation of aerial technology allowed the 1st Cavalry Division to enter World War II with another discipline in its inventory of weapons. Throughout the war, and for several years after, Army aviation was called organic Army aviation. This was done to distinguish it from the Army Air Force and because its aircraft and personnel were organic to battalions, brigades, and divisions of the Army Ground Forces. This capability would be enhanced and improved leading to its later use in the organization of the 1st Cavalry Division Aviation Brigade, a major maneuvering unit that, today, changes the way that wars are fought.
The original function of organic Army aviation during World War II was to assist in the adjustment of artillery fire. During the course of the war, however, organic aviation's small fixed-wing aircraft, commonly known as Grasshoppers, came to be used for Command and Control (C2), medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), wire laying, courier service, aerial photography, reconnaissance, and other purposes. The principal reason for the expanding mission of organic Army aviation was that its aircraft were accessible to ground commanders and able to operate in close coordination with ground forces. The aircraft of the Army Air Forces often were not.
Both the original creation of organic Army aviation and its assumption of additional functions during World War II provoked friction and rivalry between the Army Ground Force and the Army Air Force. When the Army Air Force became the US Air Force in 1947 and organic Army aviation remained part of the Army, the friction continued and lasted until the 1970s. To avoid the expense of having two aviation organizations with overlapping functions, the War Department and later the Department of Defense (DOD) established restrictions on the roles and missions of Army aviation and on the size and type of Army aircraft.
For essentially the same reason, Army aviation's primary training and the development and procurement of its aircraft were controlled by the Army Air Force/US Air Force for many years. These restrictions were specified in a series of War Department and DOD memoranda and by agreements between the Army and the Air Force that began in 1942 and continued until 1975. Notwithstanding the continuing restrictions on the roles and missions of Army aviation, its actual functions in combat situations continued to expand during the Korean and Vietnam wars, for essentially the same reasons as during World War II.
Concurrently, Army aviation progressively became independent of the Air Force in matters of training, procurement, and logistics. Army aviation thereby evolved from a small organization with a limited combat support mission to become the principal air arm of the Army. Its expanding mission and responsibilities were reflected in the successive memoranda and agreements - usually negotiated after the exigencies of combat or extensive testing had clearly demonstrated that Army aviation was the logical provider of most of the Army's tactical aerial requirements.
Although Army aviation has continued to use some fixed-wing aircraft up to the present, its evolution to its current role and status resulted to a large degree from the development of the helicopter and of rotary-wing tactics and doctrine. While the Army Air Forces, the Navy, and the Coast Guard acquired helicopters during World War II, Army aviation did not acquire its first one until 1947. The helicopter was in its infancy during that period, however, and, aside from a very few rescue missions, was used only for testing, experimentation, and training. The Army Ground Forces, to which Army aviation was then attached, borrowed a helicopter from the Army Air Forces and conducted tests at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, beginning in 1944; however, no requirement for Army Ground Forces helicopters was established by those tests.
During the early years of the Cold War, the Army Air Forces/US Air Force gave greater emphasis than ever to strategic air operations and correspondingly less emphasis to tactical air support of the Army. The Air Force continued using the helicopter almost exclusively for search-and-rescue operations, reluctant to allocate resources even for testing helicopters for other purposes. The Navy and Coast Guard also continued to use rotary-wing aircraft only for rescue and other similar purposes. Both the Army and the Marine Corps, however, became interested in acquiring helicopters for other uses - especially in view of the growing Army perception that the Air Force had very little interest in tactical transport and close air support (CAS).
In 1946, the War Department Equipment Board determined that Army Ground Forces
required four types of helicopters. The types ranged from light liaison to
transport helicopters capable of carrying one to three tons and convertible to
cargo, passenger, or ambulance use. Three years later, another Army board
study expanded these requirements to six types with cargo capacities of up to
Helicopters were in short supply during the early years of the Korean war. In addition to this fact, the Air Force was slow about testing them and resisted procuring them for the Army. When Major General James M. Gavin requested helicopters from the director of requirements for the Air Force, he was told that "the helicopter is aerodynamically unsound... and no matter what the Army says, I know that it does not need any."
During the Korean war, the Army used fixed-wing aircraft for essentially the same functions as during World War II. However, the inception of organic Army Aviation emerged during the Korean War with the growing realization that ground commanders needed aviation resources directly under their control which were always responsive to his needs as an integral part of the organizational assets. More importantly, the war in Korea clearly demonstrated the potential of the helicopter, especially for MEDEVAC and tactical transportation. Although the Army was not able or prepared to employ helicopters for other missions during that period, the Marine Corps successfully demonstrated the value of the helicopter in "vertical envelopment operations" - an early version of air mobility and air assault.
Army Aviation as a separate organizational unit came into being in the period of 1950 to 1954. By January 1953, four transportation helicopter companies, later designated as aviation units, had been organized and a number of provisional ambulance detachments were operational. Both during and following the Korean war, several Army leaders called for the use of helicopters in new tactical missions. General Gavin published an influential article in April 1954, "Cavalry, and I Don't Mean Horses." The article called for the use of helicopters in air cavalry operations to provide the mobility that Army cavalry forces had lacked in Korea. Much of the conceptual basis for doctrinal development of the helicopter during the 1950s came from General Gavin's vision of a "sky cavalry" unit.
On 15 February 1954, the third year after the return of the 1st Cavalry Division to Hokkaido, Japan, a new dimension was added to the intensive troop training program of the First Team when "F" Company, 5th Cavalry Regiment took to the sky in a tactical airlift training operation. Using a system of shuttle flights, H-19 helicopters from the 6th Helicopter Company, transported the soldiers from their home base of Camp Schimmelpfennig to the training area of Ojoji-hara, some thirty miles away. Immediately upon arrival, the troopers, clad in overwhites, moved out with complete field gear, and set up winter training operations.
Later in 1954, the United States Army Aviation School moved from Camp Sill, Oklahoma, to Camp Rucker, Alabama. Camp Rucker was renamed Fort Rucker and the United States Army Aviation Center (USAAVNC) was established there the following year. In 1956, the Aviation School began mounting weapons on helicopters and developing air cavalry tactics which may have not been in total conformity with DOD restrictions on the use of Army aircraft assets. To circumvent any possible objections, the School indicated that they were experimenting with the arming of helicopters under the auspices of an Army directive to develop "highly mobile task forces with an improved ratio of fire power to manpower."
In 1963, under the Reorganizational Objective Army Divisions (ROAD) concept, the divisional companies were expanded into battalions consisting of a general support company and an airmobile company. The general support companies assumed the aerial surveillance, reconnaissance and liaison and utility missions of the old divisional aviation companies while the airmobile companies augmented with armed escort helicopters, performed the mission of air movement of troops and material. The Air Assault Division was established in 1963 to test the ideas developed in the previous year by the U.S. Army Tactical Mobility Requirements Board (or Howze Board, named after its president, Lt. General Hamilton H. Howze).
Ultimately, only two divisions, operated tactically under the Airmobile concept. The 11th Air Assault Division was inactivated in 1965 and the 1st Cavalry Division along with the 101st Airborne Division were reorganized, with organic aviation groups of three battalions of rotary-wing aircraft and a fixed wing aviation company. This beginning had an enormous impact on the expansion of Army Aviation that took place during the Vietnam War.
The aviation element assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, the 11th Aviation
Group (Airmobile) consisted of the 227th, 228th, 229th Aviation Battalions and
the 1st Squadron (Reconnaissance), 9th Cavalry Regiment. The first of the
contingent arrived in Vietnam on 13 September 1965. The 11th Aviation Group
was soon operating at full capacity and its missions of providing tactical
mobility for combat troops and transporting equipment and supplies to units of
The original method of operation of the 1st Cavalry Division was that only two
brigades would be deployed in the field at a time an the other would remain at
the base camp. For the most part, the 227th Assault Helicopter Battalion (AHB)
supported the 3rd Brigade and the 229th (AHB) supported the 1st Brigade and
both battalions shared in the support of the 2nd Brigade. The 228th Assault
Support Helicopter Battalion (ASHB) was employed in general support of the
Division. The mission of 11th General Support Aviation Company was to furnish
aviation support for the Division Headquarters and other units within the
Division without organic aircraft. The group and its subordinate units soon
proved to be able to provide continuous support (day or night) during marginal
visual and weather conditions.
Armed scout and attack helicopters - especially when operating in nap-of-the-earth and nighttime environments - clearly were shown to have the required survivability and to be viable and essential elements of conventional mid-to high-intensity warfare. Thus the way was paved for the continued development of the modern attack and scout helicopters and the doctrinal principles that would take Army aviation into the next century.
With the return of the last elements of the Aviation Operations to Ft. Hood in 1972, The units underwent several reorganizations and the aviation operations became centralized under the command of a "Provisional" Brigade in 1974. Out of this test operation, the Combat Aviation Brigade was constituted in the Regular Army and activated at Fort Hood, Texas on 01 September 1984 under the command of Colonel Robert A. Goodbary. At that time the brigade was composed of the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, the 227th Aviation and the 228th Attack Helicopter Battalions. The two aviation battalions combined with the reconnaissance squadron of the 9th Cavalry, gave the Combat Aviation Brigade its scout, observation, attack and support capability.
The mission of the newly formed Aviation Brigade was to find, fix and destroy enemy forces using reconnaissance, fire and maneuver capability to concentrate and sustain combat power at the critical time and place. The brigade provides timely reconnaissance and intelligence throughout the battlefield, mass attack helicopter fires and rapidly reposition combat power anywhere within the division area. It is capable of quickly inserting troops, supplies and equipment to sustain the battle and at the same time provide the command, control and liaison assets necessary to manage and coordinate the battle.
On 16 September, an Air Force C5A Galaxy, carrying the advanced headquarters
staff, left Fort Hood Robert Gray Army Airfield. In the final drama, soldiers
assembled for manifest roll call. The moment came; busses pulled up, planes
were loaded and the time for memories had begun. On 28 September, personnel of
the Aviation Brigade flew to Dharhan, Saudi Arabia.
On 11 January 1991, beginning to focus on offensive action, the 1st Battalion moved Northwest to Tactical Assembly Area Wendy, located in the vicinity of King Khalid Military City (KKMC). On 13 January, ARCENT attached the 1st Cavalry to the VII Corps control. The First Team was ordered into defensive positions along the South of the Tapline Road. The defense consisted of the 1st Brigade covering the area West of the Wadi, the 2nd Brigade covering east of the Wadi and 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry screening forward, behind the Tapline Road. For the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment the war began during the day, on 17 January, in an attack against 50 Iraqi tanks crossing the border into Saudi Arabia. Shortly after departure, the mission was scrubbed without any direct engagement. The Iraqi tanks had defected. Positioned at Assembly Area Wendy, plans for the defense of Wadi al Batin and areas north of Tapline Road were refined.
On 23 January, the 1st Cavalry Division began their methodical "creep" forward toward the border with the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry moving their ground and aerial screens. Their efforts were rewarded by the capture of the 1st defector. The final week of February was characterized by intense vehicle maintenance and unit training in preparation for the ground phase. On 01 February, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry began pushing a platoon out to observe the Ruqi Highway as the Saudi border guards began their withdraw from their posts. In further preparation, on 04 February, Hellfire gunnery was conducted at night on the Jayhawk Range.
On 05 February, the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry reported nine vehicles moving North, in front of the screen. An AH-1 Cobra Helicopter, on the screen, received small arms fire from dismounts near a desert observation post. The Cobra returned fire with five rockets, scoring two direct hits.
On 10 February, the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment moved North of
Hafar al Batin to Assembly Area Bart. Although plans had been made to conduct
screen operations, none were flown as part of the 1st Cavalry Division's plan
of deception to conduct a "feint" attack up the Wadi al Batin, creating the
illusion that it was the main ground attack of the Allies. Crew chiefs went to
work by flashlight to ready the helicopters that would fly into killing range
of the Iraqi 27th and 28th Infantry Divisions. After being postponed three
times, the Battalion launched early in the damp, cold dawn of 25 February
without close air support. The mission was composed of sixteen AH-64's to
concentrate fire power on the prime target areas.
As the fire escalated, a radio call froze everyone for an instant. "We're hit, we're hit, we're going down". It was the Commander of Charlie Company, Captain Mike Klingele. Their wingman, 1st Lt. Robert Johnston, saw the crash and suppressed the enemy who had already began to move in on the wreck. Captain Klingele and his crewman CWO Mike Butler were able to free themselves from the cockpit and began to run towards Johnston's ship. Johnston took off with the two hanging by a strap attached to the pylons. The Iraqis, fearing the main effort was about to be launched, set fire trenches ablaze in front of the 2nd Brigade. The smoke, combined with the uncertain tactical situation, made a recovery of the AH-64 by a CH-47 Chinook too risky. The downed helicopter was destroyed in place with two TOW missiles.
The Battalion regrouped and made two more runs against the Iraqis before they were relieved by the 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment. The tally for the day was thirty one bunkers, one tank, three howitzers, five trucks, a radar site and two grateful survivors.
On 26 February, the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry led the 1st Cavalry north into Iraq after hastily terminating the screening operations. On 27 February, the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment Battalion moved North across the Saudi Arabia - Iraq border as an element of the ground war. Aircraft stopped to refuel at Objective Lee, then continued Northeast in Iraq to Assembly Area John. Upon arrival the aircraft remained in standby and were not committed to battle. On 28 February, the ground elements of the 227th closed with the aircraft when the 48 hour cease fire went into effect. As the sun rose over the silent battlefield, the Aviation Brigade found itself squarely in the middle of the Tawakalna's former sector. The sand was laced with unexploded cluster munitions from the intense campaign against the Republican Guard.
On 04 March, a thorough battle assessment was conducted. As part of the clean up operations, two OH-58's, equipped with loud speakers, along with AH-64 helicopters swept a large area of Southern Iraq evaluating battle damage using gun cameras to record the wreckage. The mission also uncovered several Iraqi soldiers left behind in the retreat of the Republican guard.
On 09 and 10 March, the Brigade supported demolition operations of abandoned
equipment and undamaged Iraqi equipment. The 1st Cavalry moved south into
Saudi Arabia and the new Assembly Area (AA) Killeen. There on the plain of the
Wadi al Batin - the Cavalry began to prepare for redeployment home.
Upon return to the United States, The first of a series of reorganizations were initiated in the period May 1991 to August 1993, which resulted in a contingency force, ready to deploy anywhere in the world on a moments notice. On 06 November 1992; Company "D", 227th Aviation Regiment was redesignated as 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment (Provisional). On 16 December 1993, the Provisional status was removed by its activation and assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division. More recently, on 27 June 1997, as part of the restructuring of the Aviation Brigade, the 4th Battalion was redesignated as 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment. The fast acting, hard hitting Aviation Brigade continues to "Live the Legend" of the true Cavalry Spirit in all of its missions on a daily basis.
On 24 May 2005, following six months of extensive planning, officers of the
1st Cavalry Division began executing the monumental task of reorganizing and
realigning its manpower and equipment resources into the Army Matrix of Modular
Forces. As each Brigade changed command, they changed their colors and become
a Brigade Unit of Action (BUA). Under the reorganization, the Division will
have six Brigades. While undertaking the transformation changes, the Division
will experience nearly a fifty percent turnover in personnel while performing
the coordination of arrival and reallocation of critical new equipment
required to support their new missions. Simultaneously, with the equipment
changeovers, new training and maintenance programs will be initiated to
prepare for possible combat redeployment as early as 15 April, 2006 or as may
be directed by the Army Command. A major milestone of the transformation will
occur with the "Stand Up" of the 4th Brigade Combat Team at Ft. Bliss, TX. on
18 October, 2005.
|1st CAVALRY DIVISION RESTRUCTURING|
|26 May 2005||5th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division||Inactv'd at Ft. Hood, TX|
|515th Support Battalion (FWD), 5th Brigade Combat Team||Inactv'd at Ft. Hood, TX|
|Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division||Inactv'd at Ft. Hood, TX|
|1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division||Actv'd at Ft. Hood, TX|
On 10 February 2006 the 1st Air Cavalry Aviation Brigade Combat Team and the 227th Aviation Regiment augmented their level of force by the activation of the 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment and its subordinate operational and support units at Ft. Hood, TX.
Also on 10 February, members of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division were put on notice that eight CH-47 Chinook helicopter flight crews and a supporting maintenance team are to redeploy to Pakistan to conduct humanitarian relief efforts to earthquake victims there. This is the second deployment to Pakistan for members of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, who conducted a six-week relief operation there beginning mid-October last year. The call for the aviators comes as flight crews in Pakistan begin to reach the one-year mark of their deployment supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The deployment is expected to last six weeks.
On 13 February, the early dawn came around as the soldiers from the 2nd
Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment and 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st
Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division had to go through the Soldier
Readiness Processing in preparation for their deployment. At this point, all
knew that they would be moving out that very night. By evening, the groups
combined to create Task Force Quake II and began the journey to Pakistan.
On 15 February the soldiers arrived in Manas Air Force Base, Kyrgyzstan,
located just outside the tiny city of Bishkek. At this point, they were
getting a little weary, but still kept their heads on straight. Manas AFB gave
them something they hadn't had in over two days -- a shower. With roughly only
a day's rest under their belts, Task Force Quake II headed out for Bagram,
Afghanistan where they stayed for a little less than a day before heading out
to Islamabad, Pakistan. On 17 February, the next day they arrived at Qasim Air
Base, in Islamabad, and the soldiers immediately began the transition to being
stationed in a foreign nation. After some quick briefings and a tour of the
facility, the soldiers of the Task Force were able to get a little rest.
There are reasons why the Chinooks are used as opposed to other aircraft in the inventory of the Army. Chinooks are used because of their operational altitude and load carrying capacity. Both of these factors are important because of the terrain the Chinooks are being flown over. Pakistan, unlike Iraq, is very mountainous and the loads that are being carried could not be taken by a Black Hawk helicopter. The Chinook can handle 17,000 to 18,000 pounds at a comfortable maximum. While the helicopters could carry more in some circumstances. The pilots and crew work an eight-hour day taking about eight loads out to the people in remote areas of Pakistan. The normal day for the pilots and crew starts with a briefing early in the morning around 0530 hours with lift-off scheduled by 0730 hours and return around 1600 hours. They head out to a pick-up zone to retrieve their load then go drop it at specified coordinates given to them earlier that morning. With these types of missions being played out every day, the relief effort in Pakistan is quickly coming to an end.
On 12 April the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Aviation Brigade and the 615 Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division returned from a two month deployment to Pakistan. The deployment was the unit's second to the country, which was damaged by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake on 08 October, 2005. During their deployment mission, the task force delivered 4 million pounds of food and supplies.
On 03 November 2008, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade (ACB) "Warriors" began the introduction of the newly reconstructed operational unit, the "Blues Platoon" which is modeled from information gathered the roots of their weathered past operating in the jungles of Vietnam. A Blues Platoon is a platoon of ground Soldiers that are attached to an aviation unit to conduct deliberate and hasty operations, enabling the aviation units to react to a multitude of missions quicker than before. There will be a total of three Blues platoons within the 1st ACB – all will be attached to the 3rd "Spearhead" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB. "Spearhead"is an assault helicopter battalion made up of about 30 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
One of the Blues Platoons from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry
Division has already arrived for training The other two will come from the 1st
Brigade Combat Team. The Blues Platoon will take part in many operations
ranging from downed aircraft recovery, unmanned aerial vehicle recovery, hasty
checkpoints, air assaults and more. In assuming these new missions the former
tankers will be giving up their tanks to mount up on their new steeds "Black
Hawks" and CH-47F Chinooks. Because these are the new operational vehicles to
the tankers, there will be extensive training sessions which will lead up to a
rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA., and ultimately
their deployment to Iraq.
The DRRF is an area where deploying units stage vehicles and make all the
necessary preparations for transportation. Once complete, the vehicles are
moved to the railhead to be loaded onto a train for movement across country.
In conducting these preparatory operations, safety is a big focus. As a safety
measure, all Soldiers in the rail yard are required to wear road guard vests
as well as their helmets. The Soldiers also have to be especially careful
about moving on and off the railcars because they're six feet off the ground.
After two days of tedious vehicle movement, the operation was completed safely
with no injuries.
On 10 January, Soldiers from the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, continuing their preparation for the National Training exercises, begin loading an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter on an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, at Robert Gray Army Airfield, Ft. Hood, TX. Loading of a single Apache on the C-17 requires extensive mechanical and electrical support skills as the 4 main rotor blades, stabilator and all radio antennas must be removed from the helicopter before being loaded into the aircraft. The Apache is being loaded onto the C-17 as training en route to Ft. Irwin, CA. for a month-long rotation at the National Training Center.
On 09 February 2009, major modifications to helicopter weapons systems to provide better defense and targeting systems for aviators began. However, modifications for pilots usually pose an addition challenge - these aircraft must be available to facilitate training for the pilots prior to deployment. As preparation for the upcoming deployment to Iraq, AH-64D Apaches in 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade are going through an extensive modification process that involve a great deal of coordination between the military and civilian contractors performing the modifications. The modifications vary in their role for the Apaches:
On 16 March, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, began port operations in final preparation for their upcoming deployment in support of OPERATION Iraqi Freedom - IV. AH-64D Apache attack helicopters of the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division were the first units to depart for the port of Beaumont, TX. As in one massive air assault, the Apaches and Black Hawks arrived in formation and landed to fill the shipping docks at the Port of Beaumont.
Following final inspection, they will be loaded for transport to Kuwait. This
is the last stage of equipment preparation for the Air Cavalry Brigade before
taking their deployment step overseas. The inspected aircraft are turned over
to contractors who breaks down each helicopter into shippable disassemblies,
carefully packs and loads each onto the transport vessel destined for the port
of Ash Shuabyah, just 20 miles south of Kuwait City, Kuwait.
On 25 March, the threatening sprinkles of rain and clouds that hovered over Cooper Field in ominous circumstances could not deter the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade from holding their color casing ceremony as a closing event of their final preparations for their upcoming deployment in support of OPERATION Iraq Freedom - IV.
Spectators were treated to the colorful horse detachment's pageantry of the historical "cavalry charge" which coincided with the modern flyover of AH-64D Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. They also had the opportunity see the time honored tradition of casing the unit's colors, an event marked by tradition, honor, respect and sacrifice. Adding the ceremony also symbolized the very soul of the 1st ACB. The Colors of the brigade will not be unfurled until the 1st ACB reaches Iraq and assumes authority for operations.
The Air Cavalry Brigade, in undertaking their third deployment since 2004,
preparers to join the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams of the 1st
Cavalry Division who are already "in theater". The Brigade's Soldiers started
on their road to deployment nearly a year ago with detailed preparation,
realistic training along with an aggressive team building program, that
included rotations to combat training centers, establishing an air-ground
integration program for the division, multiple gunneries, hurricane relief
operations, resetting and retrofitting the entire aircraft fleet and an
extensive training exercise at Fort Rucker, AL.
On 20 Apri, the first flights of 1st Air Cavalry Brigade Soldiers, the last brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division to deploy, left Robert Gray Airfield for Iraq this week amid a cheering crowd of family members and friends. More than 250 Soldiers were in the "Torch" or advance party of the brigade. The advanced party includes the lead elements of the 615th Aviation Support Battalion who will be in charge of the port operations of helicopter assembly, test and inspection in Kuwait.
Four of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade five battalions, based in Taji and one operating out of Tallil will replace the Combat Aviation Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, which is scheduled to return in early summer. Their mission is to support ground maneuver brigades, something in which the troopers are well trained
Although training and orientation was given top priority which consumed the majority of the pre-deployment activities of the brigade, they were able to spend some time with their family members before deploying, thanks to the leadership at Ft. Hood and the brigade. Before previous deployments, soldiers were working around the clock right up until they departed for Iraq. This time leaders ensured everything got done on a pre-determined, time-lined schedule so soldiers could spend their last weeks states side with their families.
On 24 April, Friday, more than 350 Soldiers from every battalion deployed, This echelon of troops were followed by more than 300 from the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment and the balance of the 615th Aviation Support Battalion who left on Saturday, the 25th. More than 350 soldiers from the Brigade's 3rd and 4th Aviation regiments and 615th Aviation Support Battalion departed Ft. Hood for Iraq on the 28th Additional deployment flights for the Brigade will continue through the end of April.
On 01 May, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division closed out its departure schedule for the Middle East. Among the 160 to leave early that morning were Zack Owen and Jim Cody, radio DJs for the country-music station Waco 100. This is the second trip to Iraq for Owen and Cody, who will broadcast their morning radio show for 10 days, featuring 1st Cavalry Division along with other Fort Hood soldiers in Iraq.
The pair made a similar trip more than a year ago when they spent time in Baghdad featuring 4th Infantry Division soldiers on their morning radio program, "The Zack and Jim Show." The two left Fort Hood Friday wearing 4th Infantry combat patches on their Army Combat Uniforms. The show will be broadcast from 600 hours to 1000 hours on 99.9 FM through late next week.
Now, with the deployment of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, the barrack areas and training areas of the 1st Cavalry Division are quiet, with the exception of the echoes of prior departure ceremonies and sober activities of the Rear Detachment of the Division. The main goal of the Rear Detachment, at this period of the deployments, is to prepare soldiers and their families for the long separation. That effort includes everything from making sure the soldiers have completed last-minute training to organizing the farewells and flights out.
The rear detachment wants the departure of the soldiers from Ft. Hood and the
arrival in theater to be as effortless and painless as possible. Part of that
process begins at the West Fort Hood Gym as soldiers and their Division
Families say their final goodbyes and continues through a communications link
maintained throughout and between the battle zones of Iraq.
Heavy cranes and vehicles moved aircraft from transport vessels to the dock areas where the 1st ACB noncommissioned officers led their team assembling aircraft for flight after their long journey on the sea. With all this seemingly choreographed commotion, it would not be obvious that there were five different units that worked at the port - just one big team.
The Soldiers moved more than 60 aircraft from the transports, reassembled, inspected and flew them to Camp Buehring, all in about 72 hours - an amazing feat of ability and speed. On top of that, not a single trooper was injured and not one aircraft damaged in the process. In as much as Soldiers don't normally work in the ever-changing environment of the sea port, so it was important that they worked as a team in a very methodical and deliberate manner.
To help with the team effort, but not necessarily turn wrenches, the 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade helped keep the logistical side of the operation, such as food, shelter and manning, moving so that the Soldiers working didn't have to worry about anything else but the aircraft in front of them.
At the end of the day, it was the Soldiers on the docks, turning the wrenches,
who were the true heroes enabling all of the aircraft of the "Warrior" Brigade
to be "on station" at Camp Buehring and allowing the Brigade to gear up for
their 12-month deployment in Iraq.
With the crew chiefs giving information about the conditions on the outside
of the aircraft, the pilots still need to monitor what is happening on the
inside. Some of the more experienced pilots can just glance at their
instruments and do most of the flying with just visual just because they have
done the maneuver so many times. The crew chiefs and pilots are definitely
confident after doing the training here because these conditions are worse
Also on 18 May, two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the 3rd Assult Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade arrived, making its final approach, at the airfield of Camp Taji after making the journey from Camp Buehring, Kuwait where they spent the last several weeks undergoing final preparations and environmental training for their deployment in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM - VI.
The aircraft, the first to arrive from Camp Buehring, was part of a 227th Aviation Regiment formation, including "B" Company. 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade will be spending the next year in Iraq conducting aviation support operations in support of Multi National Division - Baghdad Soldiers.
On 20 May, two days later and under cover of night, the main body of soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade began to arrive - unloading from a CH-47F Chinock helicopter for their one year deployment for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
On 28 May, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National
Division Baghdad has completed settling into their quarters at Camp Taji, but
before the Transfer of Authority between the incoming and outgoing units takes
place, there is a short time period during which tactical information and
lessons learned are exchanged. This time period is known as Relief In Place
In addition to sharing information, the 4th CAB will transfer aircraft to the 1st ACB during the RIP. It is important for the technical inspectors from each unit to work together to get the aircraft transferred. Technical inspectors ensure the quality of work being done on the aircraft and are custodians of the extensive paperwork that shows the airworthiness of the helicopters. For the 1st ACB, it is important to get a good idea of problems that could arise with the aircraft.
Identification of any deficiencies with the aircraft and getting them repaired
before the aircraft transfer is important. The aircraft are in good condition
for the hours they have flown and the type missions conducted. With the
tenacity to do their jobs, the Soldiers of the 1st ACB, began their
inspections and are just waiting for a chance to conduct air operations.
The transfer serves as point of inspiration because it exemplified the professionalism and dedication of all these aviation officers. who has been bought together to replace the mission function. The war in Iraq is not over and the environment is still dangerous and the 1st ACB still faces insurgent threats.
The 1st ACB will deliberately and aggressively use responsive attack weapons
teams, precision air assaults, medical evacuation support and timely movement
of Soldiers and supplies in theater, while proudly displaying the 1st Cavalry
Division patch on its aircraft. The aviation brigade is the strongest asset of
the Division and the biggest overmatch against the enemy. The enemy will never
have the attack, assault and surveillance capabilities of the 1st Air Cavalry
Word started to get out that the shop was staffed with military occupation specialty personnel for engines, power train, airframe and hydraulics. Customers started trickling in one by one and then it kind of became regular - and now they have been rely on the operation for the last four months. The task force Soldiers recently completed hydraulic repairs and non-destructive inspections on Navy E8-6B Prowler electronic warfare airplanes, Marine CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, along with an airframe repair on an Air Force C-5 Galaxy airplane.
A mutual respect has formed among the Soldiers of the shops platoon and the other military branches. Certain parts, supplies and amenities that TF 227 did not have were acquired because of the willingness to support others outside the unit. One of the first repairs made by the task force was on a C-5 aircraft; a small piece of sheet metal on an engine cowling had started to separate, exposing the engine to the possibility of debris getting inside and causing damage.
On 17 March, the advanced group of The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division began its return to Fort Hood as 150 soldiers were welcomed back from Iraq at Cooper Field. Soldiers from across the brigade made up the advance party that will prepare for the rest of the brigade's arrival next month.
Flights for the balance of the treoops started in mid-April and it will take about two weeks to bring all of the brigade back from Iraq. Beginning last 02 June, while in Iraq, the brigade replaced the Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Camp Taji, Iraq. It was the second time the Ft. Hood based units exchanged places at Camp Taji.
In anticipation of the mountainous terrain, extreme altitude and cold weather environments of the Afghanistan theater, the 1st ACB had spent the last three months training in the winter conditions near Ft. Carson, Colorado.
The two units will perform counter-insurgency operations, assist with
reconstruction in the country, train and equip Afghan forces and work with
Afghan officials and NATO forces to support the Afghan government. The air
support of the Air Cavalry Brigade will be a valuable asset to the forces on
Training ranged from aerial gunneries back at Ft. Hood to a three-month, high altitude training exercise near Fort Carson, CO. Once training was complete and combat readiness established, the focus turned to the families, who were enduring a short dwell time since the brigade returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom last year. The training efforts of the brigade supported a successful deployment for the 1st ACB.
Not surprisingly, after nearly a year away from their friends and family while
supporting the Coalition's efforts in Afghanistan, 4th CAB Soldiers welcomed
the arrival of their 1st ACB counterparts.The 4th CAB assisted 1st CAB
throughout the transition. Everyone worked together get the 4th CAB back home
and the 1st CAB soldiers settled in, enabling the mission execution.
The process started as the first batch of helicopters began arriving in country last month. Depending on the aircraft the maintenance can be relatively simple, or in the case of the CH-47F Chinook helicopter, it can be a drawn out process that requires extensive time and effort. The rigging process helps to ensure the flight controls of the Chinook helicopter align correctly, so that the aircraft flies the way it was designed to
As for the maintainers, they each have military a occupation specialty that normally bind them to one specific airframe, whether that airframe is a CH-47F Chinook, UH-60L Black Hawk, or an AH-64D Apache. With a time crunch that is mission critical, the maintainers have taken a flexible approach to their tasking. They've come together as a team to assemble and perform scheduled and unscheduled aircraft maintenance regardless of airframe affiliation.
As the maintainers conclude their initial tasks, the baton is then passed to
the maintenance test pilots, who take to the skies to ensure proper
functionality of the aircraft prior to releasing the aircraft back to their
assigned line units within the brigade.
During the ceremony, the brigade uncased its colors and officially took charge of US aviation operations in Regional Command North, a role previously held by the outgoing unit, the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. The commander of the outgoing unit, Col. Daniel Williams, took the opportunity during the ceremony to reflect on the accomplishments attained by his unit during the past year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The commander of the 1st ACB, Col. John Novalis, paying tribute to the unit his troops are relieving, thanked the Iron Eagles for their efforts during the past year and then assured those in attendance that his Soldiers were prepared for the task at hand.
The 1st ACB is the first brigade-sized element of the 1st Cavalry Division to
deploy to Afghanistan, joining the Division Headquarters as the only other
element of the division currently deployed in theater.
Especially elated, were the Soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade who were christened as "First Team" combat veterans during the many combat patch ceremonies held in Afghanistan, approximately 235 years to the day America declared its independence from Great Britain.
Scattered throughout Afghanistan, each task force within the Air Cavalry Brigade took the time to commemorate Independence Day with a ceremony. As the soldiers stood in formation and the "cav patch" was placed on their right shoulders, a common sentiment of pride echoed throughout each individual ceremony.
For the troopers of the Division that fought in the south Pacific to those who are cxurrently serving in Afghanistan, the right to wear the Division's patch on their right shoulder sleeve comes as recognition of their service in a combat zone. The honor of receiving the 1st Cavalry Division's patch, which may be worn on their uniform, of any unit of the Army, links the wearer to the "First Team" members of the past, present and future.
Many of the 1st ACB soldiers had already seen combat with other units and were
receiving the combat patch of the Division for the first time. For others, the
occasion marked the first time in their careers that they would fashion a
combat patch on their right shoulder sleeve.
Hovering over the airfield at Kunduz, the transporting Chinook helicopter gradually lowered. As a cloud of dust lifted, crew members stationed on top of the other helicopter stood ready to bond the two airframes together, setting the stage for the pending sling load to commence.
To ensure smooth and safe execution, the crew members went through vigorous preparation drills that acted out different scenarios that could possibly come about during the actual sling load procedure. The preparation drills paid great dividends in the end. Transporting the Chinook across the northern Afghan landscape required extensive pre-mission planning as well.
The sling-loaded Chinook with its aerodynamic structure could in essence deviate from the helicopter above and create its own flight path, an issue that would not arise during most other normal sling load operations.
Once the flight arrived at Marmal, crew members on the ground helped carefully
guide the sling-loaded aircraft down toward its final landing spot. Upon
completion of the cargo disengagement, the transporting helicopter took off
amid another massive cloud of dust that had engulfed the area within the
vicinity during its landing.
As part of this joint effort, Soldiers from the 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division conducted rescue hoist training with a German extrication team. The training rendered an opportunity for the extrication team to gain familiarization with the aircraft hoist as an alternative method for insertion into an area where a vehicle rollover could occur.
In the mountainous and rugged terrain found throughout austere areas of Afghanistan, insertion via aircraft hoist can be the only option for medical evacuation personnel or extrication teams. The extrication team members work gives an extra capability not otherwise available. Doused in sunlight, the extrication team members began the day with crew briefs, loaded up their equipment and took off in a Black Hawk medevac helicopter to the training site.
The ultimate goal was for the extrication teams to partner with the flight medics of Task Force Lobos by using specialized tools to assist patients who are stuck inside of a vehicle with no other means of extraction during medevac missions.
The training consisted of multiple iterations and a plethora of opportunities
for the teams to practice rising and lowering with the aircraft hoist. The
extrication teams also garnered experience dealing with the dusty conditions
caused by the powerful rotor wash from the sweeping rotor blades of the Black
To be continued .........
Need a gift for an Alumni of the 1st Cavalry Division?
eMail Your WebSite Comments.
Return to "MyOwnPages"©.
Revised 21 Nov '12 SpellChecked