Division West trains Pa. Guard Apache crews
October 30, 2012
NORTH FORT HOOD, Texas -- The 1-291st Attack Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West, alongside the 21st Cavalry Brigade, trained the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 1-104th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion in gunnery operations and ground-to-air engagement synchronization here Oct. 23.
The National Guard Soldiers, out of Johnstown and Harrisburg, Pa., are training in Texas before deploying to Afghanistan.
"Our primary focus is to work with our partners in the 21st Cavalry Brigade to provide world-class training that is both realistic and battle-focused for the 1-104 ARB," said Lt. Col. Robert Donnelly, commander of the 1-291st Attack Aviation Regiment. "It's a fantastic opportunity, not only for me, but for my entire team."
The training for the Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers was conducted on two stages of battle. First, the unit's ground forces convoyed out engaged the enemy.
"Once we came in contact and engaged the enemy forces, we relayed the message to the air crew to strike," said Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Gonzales, an observer controller/trainer with the 21st Cavalry Brigade. "Our job was to make the training scenarios as realistic as possible."
In their engagement training, ground teams engaged moving, stationary and hard targets with mounted crew-serve weapons such as the M249 light machine gun.
"We're getting a lot of mission-oriented training here," said Staff Sgt. John Benford, operations sergeant with the 1-104th ARB.
The second stage of the training, after the ground forces were engaged, required the 1-104th ARB air crews to communicate with their ground forces about when and where to strike.
"Another focus of the training is for the air weapons teams to coordinate their attack engagements with the ground forces to effectively destroy the enemy," Donnelly said. "The attack crews exercised the ability to synchronize their engagements within their own teams and engage different targets simultaneously."
The 1-104th ARB Soldiers used live ordnances in the air and ground scenarios. Their AH-64 Apache helicopters fired 30 mm cannons and engaged with 2.75 inch rockets and simulated hellfire missiles.
"This training is great because it provides the battalion staff the chance to battle-track and cycle crews into the (forward arming and re-fueling point) and then back to the ranges," Donnelly said.
The training equipped the National Guard Soldiers to effectively accomplish their mission overseas.
"Our mission is to provide the full spectrum of attack operations and reconnaissance for numerous ground units," Benford said. "Division West has been involved in every stage of training and made sure that it was specifically geared toward our real mission in country."