By Capt. Harrison G. Carmody, 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public AffairsAugust 19, 2013
NORTH FORT HOOD, Texas -- Air traffic control and airfield operations are vital within Army aviation. Posing demanding and hazardous challenges, an Air Traffic Service Battalion's responsibilities of providing constant watch over aircraft never ceases.
The 2nd Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment (Airfield Operations Battalion), with its advanced communication and observation technologies and equipment, is a far cry from the controllers that preceded them. On time and on target, the 2-111th AOB's qualities of professionalism and enthusiasm will serve them well as they proudly carry their colors forward to the austere and demanding environments of the deserts of Kuwait and mountains of Afghanistan.
Hailing from the heart of 'Gator Country' with the Florida National Guard, the "Overseers" of the 2-111th AOB arrived at Fort Hood ready to wrestle the many post-mobilization requirements and validation necessary to embark on their mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The unit completed rigorous training under the watch of 166th Aviation Brigade, First Army Division West, in conjunction with the Air Traffic Services Command from Fort Rucker, Ala.
During their Culminating Training Event at Longhorn Auxiliary Airstrip and Landing Strip 12, the 2-111th AOB illustrated a steadfast resolve and expert capability to assume the Senior Airfield Authority and become the controlling agency for all North Fort Hood flight traffic. Working in concert with rotary wing aircraft and aviators from both the 166th Aviation Brigade "GreyWings" and 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, as well as fixed wing support from Air Traffic Services Command's "Freedom's Voice" element, the AOB seamlessly marshaled aerial traffic in an elegant fashion.
Truly maestros of their very own symphony, the Overseers missed little, conducting over 600 aerial movements and responding to numerous simulated emergencies, demonstrating unparalleled aptitude in their profession. The GreyWings flew 93.5 accident free rotary wing hours and were able to facilitate safe but stressful training to simulate many of the scenarios the 2-111th AOB would encounter during their deployment in support of OEF.
Utilizing their mobile control tower, airspace information center, ground control radar, and tactical terminal control system, the 2-111th AOB exercised all of their equipment and experienced much of what they will face in their demanding mission overseas. Using every possible resource available, the 2-291st facilitated the rigorous training plan for the 2-111th AOB which increased the skill and experience of America's warfighters in what proved to be an efficient and productive training exercise for all who participated.
Every 2-111th AOB officer and Soldier played a vital role in the successful mobilization and validation of this great unit. Their operation section grew immensely as they learned and refined their procedures, executed battle drills, and improved mission command. Although few in number, the Overseers from 2-111th AOB truly exemplified what it means to be a "watchful eye" over air traffic control and airfield operations, confident as they march forward on to execute their next mission in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.