By Spc. Thomas ScaggsFebruary 8, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Nothing epitomizes winter training at Fort Drum, New York, quite as much as being deep in the woods, surrounded by infantrymen camouflaged in white, each breathing heavy bursts of fog as they reach the destination of their pickup zone.
In the distance, the aggressive metronome of helicopters approaching cuts through the subzero temperatures, and the men begin to assemble in the tree line, their feet crunching the crusty snow beneath. In a singular moment, a formation of helicopters crests the nearby field and effortlessly land below. The Soldiers reveal themselves from cover with their weapons in hand and march toward the impending training for the day.
2-10 Assault Helicopter Battalion and 3-10 General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI), completed a week of air assault operations alongside Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), at Fort Drum, New York, on February 2.
"We just wrapped up resetting our equipment and personnel after returning from Europe and immediately jumped back into planning and executing this air assault mission," said Capt. John B. Pride III, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot and company commander for C Company, 2-10 Assault Helicopter Battalion. "This allows our crews and pilots to get a rep in with our ground force counterparts right off the bat and get in the right mindset to be ready for whatever mission our Nation needs us for next."
Pride explained that the week-long iterations of air assaults included three companies of Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. The Soldiers, some of whom had never flown on a helicopter before, received cold and hot load training. This means they learned first how to safely load personnel and gear with the aircraft shutdown and then actively running before engaging in the actual air movement. C Company, 2-10 Assault Helicopter Battalion, provided UH-60 Black Hawks for the exercise and B Company, 3-10 General Support Aviation Battalion, provided a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and crew.
Together, the crews trained Soldiers to safely execute an air assault and concluded the training by completing an air assault from the pickup location to a training objective to the west where Soldiers went on to seize some mock air defense artillery assets.
"The ability to integrate in with the CAB and conduct training like this allows us to become more familiar and versatile in our mission set," said Capt. Andrew Boyle, company commander for Comanche Company, 2-87 Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. "It allows us to move much farther than we could on foot and allows the Soldiers to get in behind enemy lines."
Boyle said the frigid winter temperatures didn't serve to deter, but rather bolstered the Soldiers resolve to train.
"In the words of Major General Piatt, we're getting back to the mountain," said Boyle. "We've got our Level 7 ECWCS [Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System] on. Last night it got down into the negative temperatures and today, we're hovering in the single digits. It's cold, but these are the conditions we train to excel in."
More joint training opportunities are currently in the works between 10th Mountain Division's CAB, BCTs, and DIVARTY, ensuring that the entire Division team can be ready whenever called upon for duty.