The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), or 160th SOAR (A), at Fort Campbell, Ky., began a new chapter in the unit's history with the activation of Company E here at Fort Huachuca, on Tuesday at Libby Army Airfield.
Led by Maj. David Rousseau, company commander, and 1st Sgt. James Coquat, company first sergeant, Company E will provide the first unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, precision aerial-surveillance capabilities for the regiment.
In February 2013, Rousseau was selected to field and command the 160th SOAR (A)'s first MG-1C Gray Eagle UAS company at Fort Huachuca.
"Today marks a significant event for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. This is their first step into the unmanned world of intelligence collection and direct action missions," Rousseau said.
"The Regiment will now have their own organic unit to provide battlefield situational awareness instead of relying upon outside agencies for the same capability. Echo Company will continue the same tradition the 160th has established over the last 30 years in supporting the ground force commander and his distinct missions. Echo 160th will be ready to fly and fight anywhere in the world, plus or minus 30 seconds."
As Regiment Commander Col. John Evans addressed the guests, he explained that the unit was originally intended to stand up at Fort Campbell, but when the facilities weren't ready in time, they requested Fort Huachuca's assistance.
"This would not have been possible without the significant efforts of the Soldiers you see before you, without the significant support of the Families in our audience today, and also without the significant partnership of the Fort Huachuca community," said Evans. "Mister [Jerry] Proctor, Colonel [Dan] McFarland, thank you so much for what you have done to assist us in this task. We look forward to continuing to be good tenants at Fort Huachuca."
Fort Huachuca is now the official birthplace of the regiment's newest and most cutting-edge capability -- a rapidly deployable, special operations, unmanned aircraft company.
The Army's modern night fighting aviation capabilities reside in the 160th SOAR (A), which pioneered night flight techniques, shared in the development of equipment and proved that "Night Stalkers Don't Quit," a motto the regiment lives by.
The ceremony included an uncasing of the Company E guidon by Rousseau and Coquat, which commemorates the unit's history and the continuation of the finest traditions of the Army.
Following the uncasing, a bouquet of yellow roses was presented to Rousseau's wife Jess and Coquat's wife Rawnie, welcoming them to the regimental Family.
The controlled airspace, temperate climate and high mountain terrain at Fort Huachuca provides the perfect location to stage and train this elite unit, but Col. Dan McFarland, Fort Huachuca garrison commander, explained how the post will also benefit from hosting the 160th SOAR (A).
"We have a unique training environment for unmanned aerial systems situations here."
McFarland said. "For Fort Huachuca, this is a great opportunity, even though it is only for a couple of years. It speaks to what we are trying to do in terms of future defense strategy and future missions.
"When you look at the defense strategies -- special operations, unmanned aviation and joint -- they are all part of the future and that is what we think we have here. By having the 160th here, we can tap into all three of those."
Following the conclusion of the ceremony, cake and refreshments were provided for the Soldiers, their Families and guests.