FORT HOOD, Texas -- Task Force 34 conducted the first Aviation Training Exercise for approximately one week under the 166th Aviation Brigade here after two months of post-mobilization training.

The 34th Combat Aviation Brigade of the Minnesota National Guard, is the first Guard combat aviation brigade to conduct an ATX at Fort Hood, according to Col. Christopher E. Albus, commander of the 166th Avn. Bde. It was the result of extensive coordination and collaboration with multiple agencies and units.

"The Aviation Training Exercise is a brigade culminating training event to validate the headquarters' ability to provide command and control, conduct deliberate planning, and to execute combat operations in a virtual, live, and constructive environment," said Albus.

Albus said that in the past, the ATX was held at Fort Rucker, Alabama. It was moved to Fort Hood to minimize travel time and maximize training time for Soldiers. Moving the ATX also reduced costs.

"The total Army remains heavily reliant on the contributions of our Army Reserve and National Guard forces," said Albus. "166th Avn. Bde. and First Army are committed to providing timely and relevant training and assistance to the units and leaders to ensure they are ready for the unique challenges of deployment. 'Citizen Soldiers' are still the foundation of our Army's strength."

The training has been beneficial, said Col. Gregory Thingvold, commander of TF 34. The units have been training day and night throughout the past two months at Fort Hood.

Albus said he hopes to keep the ATXs at Fort Hood in the future to allow the brigades to focus all their assets on training while also improving and increasing mission realism.

Units from eight states form TF 34: Arizona, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Texas. The Task Force has deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.