Apaches take less aggressive role in Iraq
February 25, 2010
- As the U.S. mission focus in Iraq transitions to a more supportive role, AH-64 Apache helicopters take a less aggressive stance
- Apaches now used more as reconnaissance elements to aid Iraqi Security Forces in their fight
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE DELATA, Iraq -- As the role of U.S. forces turns from a kinetic, action-oriented posture to a supporting role for the Iraqi Army and Police, unit missions must also adapt to the changes.
For the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 130th Aviation Regiment, from Morrisville, N.C., this means turning their advanced capabilities from shooting to observing.
The AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter, a staple of the 1st ARB, is now turning its advanced cameras and maneuverability to providing another view from the air for U.S. and Iraqi ground forces.
Though still able to engage targets, pilots are finding their missions becoming less visible, said 1st Lt. Chris Miller, commander, Company C, 1st ARB.
"As we're withdrawing from Iraq and putting more responsibility on the security forces of Iraq, the Apaches are performing less of an attack role and more of a recon role," said Miller. "Again, we're the attack recon battalion, but as of now most of our missions are recon."
Miller, a native of Caysville, Utah, said that the Apache pilots communicate with Iraqi forces through the U.S. forces on the ground. With the upcoming elections, this communication becomes even more necessary to keeping track of potential threats and security issues.
"As the elections come closer, obviously security is going to become more and more important," Miller said. "Violence will be increasing, so the Apaches will be in the air more, covering larger areas for longer periods of time."
With the reduction of the U.S. combat role in Iraq, Miller said that the advice he would give any unit that comes after him is to be flexible.
"Every day we got two-to-three mission sets where we're called to fly," he said. "And almost every day we're called off to do something else. If an IED detonates, we could be called to support in that area. If a FOB [Forward Operating Base] gets attacked, we'll fly there to look at the sites. Flexibility is the most important thing we can use in mission planning."