TF Falcon: Year in Afghanistan with no losses
January 20, 2011
By J.D. Leipold
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 20, 2011) - The leaders of Task Force Falcon returned from Afghanistan in November and told a packed house Jan. 15, how they succeeded there without losing a single Soldier.
As part of an Association of the U.S. Army Aviation Symposium here last week, the leadership of 3rd Infantry Division's TF Falcon spoke during a panel called the "Combat Aviation Brigade Commander's Experience in the Warfight."
Col. Donald N. Galli, commander of the 3rd CAB, Command Sgt. Maj. Richard D. Stidley, and Chief Warrant Oficer 5 Bryan Batt, said it was their intent from the get-go in Afghanistan to "fly smart, shoot straight, take extraordinary measures to save an American Soldier's life and ruthlessly pursue the enemy and defeat them."
Each of the three leaders from the CAB shared brief overviews on what contributed to the success of TF Falcon from November of 2009 to November of 2010 -- the unit's fourth deployment since 2003.
The 3rd CAB consisted of four multifunctional task components: UH-60 Black Hawks, Medical Evacuation helicopters, AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, as well as CH-47D Chinook and OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters.
"(We had) roughly 240 aircraft, so we had a very big organization separated into five forward operating bases, operating in an area a little bit bigger than the state of New York -- and of course, very challenging terrain, very challenging weather and a dedicated enemy," said Galli. "We conducted full-spectrum aviation operations, air assault operations, reconnaissance, air resupply, MEDEVAC operations and a few other operations unique to our kind of organization."
The commander added that in combined actions with the Afghanistan Air Force, TF Falcon taught Afghan crew chiefs, air-assault troops and flight medics, and conducted close-combat attack drills. Galli said training the Afghan Air Force how to execute dangerous missions and how to deal with risk management was "all central to our success."
From his perspective as command sergeant major, Stidley focused on standards, discipline, and safety, as well as military occupational specialty cross-leveling and Soldier training. He credited all those elements as the reason why the CAB returned home to Hunter Army Air Field, Ga., with its full complement of Soldiers.
"We brought every single Soldier home. We didn't lose a Soldier to the enemy. We didn't lose a Soldier to suicide. We didn't lose a Soldier to an accident," Stidley said. "I believe that only happened through standards of discipline."
Conversely, while the unit lost no Soldiers, the colonel said TF Falcon was responsible for more than 17 percent of enemy casualties in the command's area of responsibility, which equated to 69 enemy killed and a 60-percent reduction in improvised explosive devices along Highway 1 in just four months.
Galli said it forced the enemy to alter their tactics, techniques and procedures, effectively reducing 15-man fire teams to trios.