New York Army National Guard aviators, Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers train together
1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pilots, from the New York Army National Guard's Company A, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, fly their UH-60 Black Hawk toward Cooperstown, N.Y., from Army Aviation Support Facility 3 in Latham, N.Y., to conduct a training exercise with Army Reserve civ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New York Army National Guard aviators, Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers train together
2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – New York Army National Guard Sgt. Edward Deguisto IV, a UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief assigned to A Company, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, helps Soldiers, of the Army Reserve's 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, strap in to the aircraft during a training ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New York Army National Guard aviators, Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers train together
3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Soldier, with the Army Reserve's 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, disembarks from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter belonging to the New York Army National Guard's Company A, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, during joint training together in Cooperstown, N... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New York Army National Guard aviators, Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers train together
4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Soldier, with the Army Reserve's 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, jumps out of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter belonging to the New York Army National Guard's A Company, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, during a training exercise in Cooperstown, N.Y., J... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New York Army National Guard aviators, Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers train together
5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – New York Army National Guard Spc. Benjamin Cleaveland, a UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief for A Company, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment, inspects the outside of the aircraft during a flight to Cooperstown, N.Y., for a training exercise with Army R... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New York Army National Guard aviators, Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers train together
6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – New York Army National Guard Spc. John Grassia, left, and Sgt. Nicholas Cook, both UH-60 Black Hawk crew chiefs for A Company, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, answer questions about their aircraft during a training exercise in Cooperstown, N.Y., June... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - Three New York Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters descend out of the darkness, land in a remote, wooded area, and drop off three teams of Army Reserve Soldiers.

As the Black Hawks take off again, the civil affairs Soldiers establish security around the aircraft landing zone and then fade into the woods to make their way towards their final training objective, a linkup and engagement with roleplaying local national key leaders.

In the sky, helicopter crew chiefs call out potential location of enemy forces so that the Reserve Soldiers on the ground can avoid them.

This scenario played out under the cover of darkness here, June 13, as Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard's Company A, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment participated in a training exercise with Soldiers from two Army Reserve civil affairs units.

The training scenario tested the helicopter crew's night vision goggle flight operations and gave them experience inserting troops in remote locations, to include conducting decoy landings.

The Army Reserve Soldiers received experience working with aviators and honed their skills needed to infiltrate to an objective and work with local national officials.

The exercise began about 7:30 p.m. when the New York Army National Guard UH-60s landed in a field near Basset Medical Center in Cooperstown, New York, to rendezvous with Army Reserve Soldiers, of the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Syracuse and Utica, and the Bristol, Pennsylvania-based 304th Civil Affairs Brigade.

Cooperstown is best known as the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, but is also the place where the Susquehanna River begins.

Upon landing, the aviators conducted static training with the reservists. The crew chiefs of each aircraft showed the civil affairs Soldiers how to properly board the aircraft, buckle themselves in, safely exit the aircraft in a landing zone and pull security around the perimeter before the helicopter takes off again.

Spc. Benjamin Cleaveland, a crew chief aboard one of the Black Hawks, said the goal of the training lesson was to properly load the Reserve Soldiers, teach them the three-step drop to disembark and have them maintain security to assist the pilot and crew.

Aboard the aircraft, he said, the crew chiefs serve as on-board mechanics to troubleshoot and fix problems, man weapons for self defense and provide extra sets of eyes on the sides and rear of the aircraft for the pilots that can only see in front of them.

After the quick lesson, crew chiefs opened one of the helicopters to a hands-on tour by local Cooperstown residents, who turned out to catch a glimpse of the Soldiers and the aircraft.

Then, as darkness descended around 9 p.m., the three Black Hawks took off with the civil affairs Soldiers, landing in one false landing spot before taking off quickly and reaching a landing zone near Otsego Lake to drop off the reservists.

From there, said Capt. William Stuart, intelligence chief for the 304th, the civil affairs Soldiers moved to an objective and, once there, conducted civil affairs tasks, such as meeting with local nationals, engaging key leaders, assessing the situation within a village and working with the local populace and government to further the overall mission.

Stuart said civil affairs is one of three branches of special operations, along with special forces and psychological operations, and works with civilians on the battlefield, host nation governments, local governments, nongovernmental organizations such as the International Red Cross, other governmental agencies such as state departments and news organizations.

"We're the battlespace commander's link to anything that's civilian," he said. "We serve as the conduit of information to and from them. We attempt to further the completion of the mission utilizing the special skills of operating with the civilians that exist within the battle space."

Stuart called the aviation assets "a force multiplier," which allows civil affairs units to move quickly from one place to another, perhaps to infiltrate an area covered by enemy forces or restore operations to an area affected by conflict of natural disaster.

As the reservists prepared for the arrival of the 3-142nd aircraft, Stuart said the Soldiers carried out some home station civil affairs work - coordinating with the aviation unit, the local government and residents in the area.

Though none of the civil affairs units is based in Cooperstown, he said one of the company commanders serves on the Otsego County legislature and, as a result, was able to act as a liaison between the military and civilian representatives.

"To land helicopters hundreds of meters away from people's houses requires a lot of coordination. That's something that civil affairs prides itself on being able to do," Stuart said. "It's a skill set that we certainly have, and we're allowed to flex that even in the planning process."

Once the Black Hawks took off after dropping off the civil affairs Soldiers for their mission, the pilots circled the area a few times while the crew chiefs assisted the ground forces by scanning the area for possible enemy forces.

While the loading and unloading went well in both the cold-load and hot-load phases, Cleaveland said he found spotting the enemy confusing as he tried to relay messages to the civil affairs teams.

"What I thought was the enemy didn't seem to be what they thought was the enemy," he said. "That being said, I still think it went well. It was good training."

From the aviation standpoint, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thomas Brumschmid, a Black Hawk pilot, said the goal of the exercise for the aircrews was the successful multi-ship air assault mission with civil affairs, gaining more crew proficiency with the use of night vision goggles, or NVGs.

Noting it went safely and smoothly, he said aviators trained well with landing and taking off with multiple aircraft and in nighttime conditions using NVGs.

"It's one of the worst conditions of flight that we can do, so we like to train in that," Brumschmid said, noting nighttime flying is a perishable task.

"When you're wearing those NVGs, you only have about a 40-degree field of view, so we try and do that more than anything else - fly in those harder conditions of flight," he said.

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