'Destiny' brings 101st CAB to Fort Rucker
January 22, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Addressing all types of missions in tactical operations centers and flight simulators, 250 Soldiers with 101st Combat Aviation Brigade prepared for their March Afghanistan deployment at the Seneff Building last week.
The unit, stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., will provide "a full array of Aviation support" for Soldiers serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, said Col. William Gayler, brigade commander.
Despite a tight training schedule and a recent Afghanistan deployment, Gayler did not want to cancel the Directorate of Simulation Aviation training exercise here because "it is of huge importance to validate ... reinforce training."
Since the "Wings of Destiny" redeployed to Fort Campbell in December 2008, some new faces joined the 101st CAB. To fully prepare the Soldiers for their upcoming deployment, the training, which provided opportunities for Soldiers to simulate their duties in a detailed week-long exercise, accelerated learning curves and integrated staffs, Gayler said.
"The processes we use are very similar. It is a great workout," he said. "I am very pleased with where we are."
Soldiers deploying for the first time said the training accomplished what leaders wanted it to - prepare them for overseas service.
First Lt. Travis Ford, an AH-64D Apache Longbow pilot, said his knowledge and understanding grew by "leaps and bounds." Ford will work in plans and operations for most of the first six months of his deployment and fly more missions in the last half.
"At least I've got a foundation, especially in plans," he said.
For Spc. Jeremeny Crabtree, a radio and telephone operator from Pensacola, Fla., the simulation served as a refresher of recent training he received and acclimated him to a few new systems.
Soldiers who already deployed said they were able to draw from their experiences to teach younger, less experienced Soldiers about what to expect.
"They turn and ask, 'Is this how we would do it'' and I would tell them this is very realistic," said Capt. Ryan Spillane, a medical evacuation officer from Colorado Spring, Colo. "The level of detail has been very good. I've been very impressed."
Spillane said the detailed information helped his staff, including many new personnel, grow as Soldiers.
"Starting from day one, I noticed a steep learning curve. I am more confident with them," he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Bryant, an infantryman specializing in personnel recovery, also utilized his 2008 deployment experience to aid in the simulation.
"I personally responded to six aircraft recovery missions. I used my experience to ensure TOC is getting the right questions answered," he said.
U.S. Army Forces Command Deputy Commanding General Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Peterson and 101st Airborne Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. John Campbell visited Soldiers during the training exercise Jan. 12. Peterson praised those carrying out DOS' mission and noted the visit allowed him to learn of any concerns his Soldiers may have.
"The purpose is to provide an opportunity to test command and control skills. It is a significant capability. It is a symbol of the great partnership between FORSCOM and TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command)," he said. "If you want to know what's going on in the Army ... you get out and visit."
The Soldiers said Peterson and Campbell's visit shows Army leadership's support for their fellow comrades.
"I think it's great because they want to know what we're going through. They want to be kept up to date," Ford said. "They get to see our reactions, and it gives them more information to make decisions. Leader involvement has to happen."
Now that the unit has received DOS training here, Gayler said his unit is ready to address the task ahead.
"The Wings of Destiny are absolutely ready to go. We are incredibly prepared through the numerous training opportunities validated here at the ATX," he said.