Dark Horse troops perform air assault
July 14, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - With 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division's upcoming deployment to Iraq early next year, the cavalry scouts of Troop B, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment entered their train-up, and they started it with something completely new to most of them. Capt. Eric Dunkley, of Spokane, Wash., and his 1st Platoon troops received a rare chance to assault a village and extract a target, not from their conventional ground vehicles, but from Company B, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division's UH-60 Black Hawks during "Operation Dark Horse Lighting" at the St. Elijah Company Military Operations in Urbanized Terrain facility June 30. According to Command Sgt. Maj. James Daniels, Dark Horse's top enlisted Soldier, as aviation assets become accessible for future operations, he and his squadron commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Shoffner, wanted to take advantage of adding air assault capabilities to their "tool kit." "The intent was to show the Soldiers the different perspectives on how to execute an air assault mission - which could be a common practice in Iraq ... to get in quickly, secure the building, get your targets, get back on the birds and get out," Daniels, of Fort Gaines, Ga. said. "Normally, we'd come in with wheeled vehicles with the same methodology, but with guys securing from the ground. Coming in by helicopter, it's more of a surprise - get in ... no movement ... because anything that runs away, the guys in the sky can tip us off. There's an advantage in using air assets." The mission started with two AH-64 Apaches from Company B, 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, providing over-watch of the MOUT facility as the scouts were dropped into the north end of the village. Their objective was to raid three buildings where a known enemy target may have been located. In three separate teams, the troops swiftly cleared each of the identified buildings. As they left the village with their target in hand, the Soldiers started to go back to the landing zone and wait for the helicopters to take them back out. The mission was an overall success, according to Daniels. "The Soldiers really got the most out of the training," he said. "As I was talking to them, they thought it was great and want to do it again." This training event was executed in order to prepare Black Jack's "Dark Horse," and the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade's "Spearhead" and "Guns" Soldiers for deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, but can be used for any theater of war, said 2nd Lt. Alex Holladay, 4-9 Cav.'s assistant Intelligence officer. "[This mission] refines Air-Ground Integration TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) and sets the stage for further missions between the ground troops and the aviators," Holladay added.