Adopting a Troop of Warriors
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WOLVERINE, Afghanistan - The Banshees, a detachment from Task Force Saber, joined Task Force Eagle Assault here early June to assist with the mission here.
"We needed the reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft to keep the roads open to allow the population and people of Afghanistan to travel freely," said Lt. Col. John Kline, TF Eagle Assault commander.
The main mission of the Banshees, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilots and maintainers, is to provide security for the forward operating base, ground forces and the main transportation route in Zabul province.
"We came out here to assist TF Eagle Assault in providing freedom of maneuver for the ground force commanders throughout this area of operations," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joshua McCann, Kiowa pilot, TF Eagle Assault. "We allow him to flex his force on the battlefield."
Freedom of maneuver allows the ground forces movement throughout the area without interference from the insurgency.
The threat to the main supply route here is very strong, limiting the maneuver of friendly forces, said McCann. This threat not only affects coalition and Afghan forces, but also the local population, which is why it is so important to secure.
"We look for any insurgents trying to influence traffic along the route, either through ambushes or IEDs," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Thompson, Kiowa pilot, Task Force Eagle Assault.
Part of their mission here is to help the local population become more self-reliant and to strengthen their government and economy.
"It's very important for the local economy here to keep that route open and have the people of this province feel safe," said Thompson.
TF Eagle Assault provides security for ground forces in Zabul province.
"When protecting ground forces, we supply a cordon of the area, as well as early warning and detection for anything entering or leaving the town," said Thompson.
The OH-58s are also equipped with heavy weaponry to engage threats and protect troops on the battlefield.
The Kiowa carries a heavy machine gun and rockets.
Advantages of the Kiowa are providing more flight time per maintenance hour and different recon capabilities than the Apache, said Thompson.
The aircraft allows the pilot maximum maneuverability and varies surveillance techniques.
"We can fly low and look out our doors," said Thompson.
It is also equipped with a Mast Mounted Sight, allowing the pilot to scan the battlefield day or night in order to aid the fight.
The Kiowa is a low-maintenance aircraft which prevents it from being grounded for long.
The Kiowa has a progressive phase maintenance. Their maintenance abilities allow the mechanics to do all their inspections within a 40 hour time frame without downing the aircraft for more than eight hours at a time, said Staff Sgt. Guillermo Rodriguez, Banshee Troop element platoon sergeant, TF Eagle Assault.
The Banshees are going to contribute greatly to the fight here, providing security and protection to the ground forces and population. With their capabilities to stay in the sky and gather information, they will also provide great security for the FOB.

Page last updated Tue July 13th, 2010 at 20:13