Air Cav Chinooks play large role in mission support
August 18, 2009
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Since the Vietnam War, Army aviation has increased the efficiently of logistics - keeping supplies and Soldiers off the dangerous roads below.
The safer and more efficiently this supply line works, the more effective the war machine becomes.
The aircrews and the CH-47F Chinook helicopters that make up B Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, are a key link for logistics operations in the Baghdad area.
Operations range from internal and external supply runs to passenger movement and air assaults.
Planning of these operations is completed by a higher element and then the request is made for the Chinooks to support these elements - an involved process, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Roberto Torres, from Salinas, Puerto Rico, a Chinook pilot in Co. B, 2-227th, 1st ACB.
"There is a certain specification of how personnel and equipment are moved around Baghdad to meet requirements for future missions," he said.
Co. B supports all branches within the United States military - including special operation forces - through combat service support missions.
We are basically here to support the troopers on the ground; they call us for support and we help them complete their mission, said Torres.
The Chinook crews of Co. B are responsible for covering the most populated area in Iraq - the MND-B area of operations.
"We reach out; we go to areas like Kirkuk, areas like Balad, a lot of the smaller FOBs [Forward Operating Bases], and move a large amount of personnel and equipment in the...hours that we fly," said Torres. "So what we do is very important."
The service Co. B troopers provide is an intricate part of the overall mission in Iraq, said Torres.
"It's my personal opinion that 90 percent of the missions that get accomplished (by U.S. forces) on a daily basis in Iraq are because of the air assets. The air assets are the ones moving the parts and pieces," said Torres. "You don't see these things being done on the ground because it is more dangerous."
Using the Chinooks to keep the supply line off of the ground adds a certain safety aspect of reducing the threat from the insurgents.
"It is a good feeling knowing that we are helping out, we are keeping people off the roads," said Sgt. Eric Grass, from Gilbert Ariz., a Chinook flight engineer in Co. B, 2-227th.
"IEDs [improvised explosive devices] are still a big deal, even though they don't hit as many people as they used to. Every person we can get off the road and move by air helps out a lot," said Grass.
The crew chiefs are responsible for the cargo and personnel the aircraft will be carrying during transportation. The passengers also look to the crew chiefs for their safety.
"Regardless of how smart a person is, when they get on the aircraft they seem to get really confused. So a big part of our job is to make sure they sit were they are supposed to sit, there muzzles are pointing downwards and making sure that all the cargo is secure," said Grass "All of this is done so that in the event of a crash we don't have people and bags flying around the cabin."
During flight, the crew chiefs are responsible for scanning the airspace for other aircraft and watching for towers and cables. They are also manning the guns in case they come under fire, so they have the means to return fire on the enemy, said Grass.
The aircrews of Co. B, know the role that they play in combat operations of Iraq and have a great sense of pride and accomplishment providing their services to the U.S. military forces.
The Chinooks and their crews are a key part of logistics to the support of missions in MND-B, Torres said emphatically.