Falcon Focus: CAB Completes Training at Fort Bliss
July 23, 2009
<b>FORT STEWART, Ga.-</b> The plane landed and emptied its cargo of equipment, baggage and Soldiers. It was the arrival of Task Force Brawler back to Hunter Army Airfield, the last of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade's four task forces to participate in Falcon Focus a training event at Fort Bliss, Texas.
"Falcon Focus was the capstone training event in preparation for future deployments," said CAB Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Stidley. "It was a confirmation of the solidity of our multifunction task force at altitude. There's no way to simulate 12,000 feet in South Georgia when the altimeter reading here at Hunter reads 24 feet above sea level."
The training exercise took place at Camp McGregor on Fort Bliss over the course of eight weeks and included each of the CAB's three flight battalions and one squadron. In a change from their traditional configuration, the CAB reconfigured the brigade to create four task forces, each outfitted with aircraft from the other battalions/squadron to make the task forces parallel to one another.
"We had a compressed timeline to train, so we had to prioritize," said Colonel Don Galli, commander of 3rd CAB. "The 3rd CAB took an innovated approach to training by focusing on training individual aircrews. I believe our (high altitude training) and Falcon Focus makes this brigade the best prepared to conduct full spectrum aviation operations during any future deployments."
Each task force was given two weeks to train at Falcon Focus, during which air crews trained on a myriad of skills including air assault insertions, pinnacle landings, live hoists, and all at high altitude. Likewise ground Soldiers participated in combat lifesaver courses, ran mass casualty lanes, endured stress ranges all while continuing to maintain aircraft.
"The training went very well, and I believe for an aviation brigade preparing for future deployments this will be the new training standard as opposed to going to one of the combined training center rotations," said Command Sgt. Maj. Stidley. "We weren't solely focused on air at Falcon Focus. We incorporated convoys, small arms, M9, and real high-intensity combat life savers lanes as opposed to CLS training in a room with plenty of time to get practice done. Falcon Focus was a whole lot more than flying."
During the entirety of the CAB's time at Falcon Focus, the task forces combined flew more than 2,000 flight hours, almost a thousand missions and expended almost a 50 hellfires. Soldiers trained on live-hoists, conducted downed aircraft recovery team training, and experienced the effects of high altitude on the body and on equipment.
"We learned that training in an environment that closely replicates the environment we will be in is priceless," said Col. Galli. "Falcon Focus provided that environment. Because of this training event our air crews are supremely prepared to take the fight to the enemy at high altitude."
"The amount of home station training before going down to Fort Bliss contributed to the success of Falcon Focus," said Command Sgt. Maj. Stidley. "We didn't go down there to begin training but to verify the training we did here at Hunter and the high altitude training we did in Eagle, Colorado. The training we did before going to Falcon Focus paid large dividends. The Soldiers took what they learned and applied it at McGregor, training the other Soldiers who didn't have the opportunity to train before going."