1st Air Cav wraps up three months of high altitude training
March 22, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- It was a crisp morning, visibility was low. The night before brought snow that now covered the ground with a white blanket. A foggy haze reached down from the overcast, cloudy sky, blanketing the whole world in a gray, dismal pall.
Soldiers, all in front of a large cement ramp, were waiting for line-haul trucks to arrive so that these trucks could be loaded up and shipped back to Texas.
While some might expect the Soldiers to be tired and grumpy because they were out early in the poor weather ,they did not seem to be. In fact, it seemed they were infected with an energetic and positive attitude. What could cause this apparent optimism in adverse conditions' These Soldiers were just finishing up their training exercise and were happy to be finished, and ready to go back to a warm and sunny Texas.
The Soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, culminated three months of high altitude mountain environment training event at Fort Carson, Colo., March 15.
Three separate rotations have gone through the training; however the largest rotation in manpower and aircraft was the last one of Task Force Spearhead, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, according to Maj. Bryan Woodcock, the task force operations officer.
TF Spearhead accomplished much in their time out in Colorado. The HAMET exercise, or High-Altitude Mountain Environmental Training, encompassed everything from learning how to fly in and around the mountains at upwards of 12,000 feet above sea level, to gunnery tables to qualify flight crews, to basic things like academic classes: all in preparation for the brigade's upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
Flying at high altitudes, such as those present in Colorado and Afghanistan, inherently makes for conditions much different than flying at lower altitudes that pilots fly at in Texas, said Woodcock.
Flying at these high altitudes can be much more difficult in the higher altitudes, he added.
"It was imperative that we came out here," said Woodcock.
"I believe it's safe to say that all the aviators are more capable pilots, more aware pilots than they were two weeks ago," said 1st Lt. Harrison Carmody, platoon leader, Company C, a junior aviator.
The intent was to get crews used to flying in terrain and conditions they aren't used to, and the intent was met, said Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Pitkus, TF Spearhead command sergeant major.
"[However] the most critical part was building the team," said Pitkus.
"We got everyone out of the garrison mind-set, and made them work through 24-hour operations like we would in theater, in order to build the team we are going to need in theater," said Pitkus.
All in all, the HAMET training really shows whether or not TF Spearhead is ready for deployment. And while their success in Colorado may speak for itself, when asked if TF Spearhead was indeed ready to go to Afghanistan, Pitkus' response was short and to the point.
"Oh yeah! Let's go!"