65th Engineers Join with 2-6 CAV for Air-Ground Integration Training
June 1, 2011
- With close air support assets in the vicinity, ground forces can engage and destroy these threats from a distance.
- Upon exiting the aircraft, the ground teams moved from the landing zone toward a mock-improvised explosive device cache.
- Within seconds, the Kiowas opened fire on the targets, engaging with both .50-caliber machine guns and rocket fire.
POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii " Enemy targets that have been spotted in the open, but are out of range, are difficult and dangerous scenarios for Soldiers on the battlefield, as these targets are an explicit but unattainable threat.
Fortunately, with close air support assets in the vicinity, ground forces can engage and destroy these threats from a distance.
Close air support is air action against a hostile enemy target in the proximity of friendly forces.
Soldiers of the 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, teamed up with the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Bde., 25th Infantry Division, for joint training operations in close air support, here, recently.
Close air support operations are inherently complex and require clear coordination between rotary aircraft crews and forces on the ground to prevent fratricide. For this reason, practice and training are essential in air-ground integration operations.
"Working with (2nd Sqdn., 6th Cav. Regt., 25th CAB,) has been great," said Lt. Col Daniel Koprowski, commander, 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde. "They're very professional and have offered us a training opportunity we wouldn't have been able to execute on our own."
Much like artillery support, Soldiers call in close air support from a distance, via radio. These communications are generally made from ground forces on the scene directly to the pilots above.
If they can safely accommodate nearby Soldiers, pilots and their crews will confirm the request and neutralize or destroy enemy targets with strafing or rocket fire from above.
To practice the scenario, Soldiers from 2nd Sqdn., 6th Cav. Regt., 25th CAB, flew teams of eight to 10 Soldiers in UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Bradshaw Army Airfield, here, to the training site, which was suitable for close air support training.
Upon exiting the aircraft, the ground teams moved from the landing zone toward a mock-improvised explosive device cache. There, they took fire from an enemy target in the distance.
Having taken cover and established a security posture, the ground assault force called for close air support from two OH-58 Kiowa helicopters in its vicinity.
Within seconds, the Kiowas opened fire on the targets, engaging with both .50-caliber machine guns and rocket fire.
Once they had confirmed the enemy threat was destroyed, Soldiers of the 65 Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., moved back to the landing zone and re-entered the Black Hawks.
The air to ground integration training was a valuable opportunity for Soldiers to observe and employ close air support assets.
"It was great familiarization training," said 2nd Lt. Kyle Chamberlin, operations, 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde. "Really being able to see what I had just called over the radio gave me confidence, should I need air support in the future."
While Soldiers in garrison train for close air and artillery support on virtual simulators, there are no substitutions for field training events, such as these, in regards to air-ground integration training.
"We don't get many chances to practice calling for air support in an environment where the birds actually show up," Koprowski said. "It's great training for our junior leaders and will pay dividends downrange."
PTA’s expanse of mountainous terrain is an ideal location for close air support training.