By Andrew LarsenJanuary 25, 2019
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Aviation Task Force Lobos has a mission to support one of the newest units within the Army - the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade (2nd SFAB) from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Task Force Lobos offered such backing recently by conducting aviation support operations at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Led by the 2-227th Aviation Regiment Commander Lt. Col. Jason Raub, Task Force Lobos consisted of elements from across the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.
"Task Force Lobos will generate and sustain aviation combat power to maximize the aviation operational reach across the battlefield in direct support of 2nd SFAB, while also conducting internal training," Lt. Col. Raub said. "This will increase the 2nd SFAB's operational capability and readiness, allowing them to prepare for future operations and deployments."
Task Force Lobos' initial occupation was multi-faceted, consisting of the safe arrival of passengers, equipment and aircraft while conducting security, and a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) sweep of the area planned for the TF Lobos base of operations.
Simultaneously, fuelers set up rapid refuel stations, known as "fat cow operations" in under 35 minutes. These two CH-47 Chinooks carried extended range fuel cells (ERFS), which allowed for eight AH-64 Apaches, and 10 UH-60 Black Hawks helicopters to refuel upon landing at JRTC and immediately posture to conduct follow on missions.
Fox Company "Ravens" deployed four air traffic control systems during the JRTC exercise which was "the most ATC systems an aviation unit has employed in the last 10 years," said Allen Seagle, ATC Chief for Fort Polk. The four systems included the mobile operation control system (MOTS), tactical terminal control system (TTCS), tactical airspace integration system (TAIS), and the air traffic navigational integration system (ATNAVICS). These systems integrate together and provide radar control and tracking of aircraft.
"It was exciting to do my job in a field environment and a very unique experience to control a V-22 Osprey while operating the tower," said Spc. Akya Cowart, air traffic controller for TF Lobos, F Company, 2-227th. "I feel a great amount of pride serving with 2-227th Aviation Regiment because my mother served as a mechanic in an army aviation unit."
The Fox Company "Ravens" were integral to the Task Force Lobos success controlling all 30 TF Lobos aircraft in and out of Polk Army Airfield with an average of 150 movements per day. TF Lobos aircraft composition consisted of three UH-60L MEDEVAC Black Hawks, eight AH-64 Apaches, nine CH-47 Chinooks and 10 UH-60M Black Hawks.
Approximately 1,300 hours were flown by Task Force lobos during their support of 2nd SFAB at JRTC. Task Force Lobos flew a wide array of missions from medical evacuation to air interdiction. However, general support lift missions took the bulk of the flight hours.
"One of our biggest successes during JRTC was maintaining an average 96 percent operational readiness rate while flying approximately 70 percent of the task force aircraft every day, said Maj. Logan Collins, S3 officer in charge and S3 OIC for TF Lobos, 2-227th Aviation Regiment.
Behind the scenes, TF Lobos maintainers worked tirelessly performing day and night maintenance, ensuring aircraft were safe and ready to fly. Each aircraft type has different hour requirements which scheduled maintenance is mandated to occur. TF Lobos conducted over 22 different inspections while operating at JRTC. These included 25, 40, 50, 100, and 120 -hour inspections on the AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk, HH-60 Black Hawk, and CH-47 Chinook respectively.
"Our mission is to provide the best aviation support to 2nd SFAB," Maj. Collins said. "Emphasis of aviation assets is essential for SFAB because it enables them to "fly to advise" to remote locations, within their area of operations."
The mission of the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade's is to organize, train, advise, and support foreign security forces in coordination with joint, interagency, and multi-national forces to improve partner capability and capacity while facilitating the achievement of United States strategic objectives.
"The advisors of the 2nd SFAB are pleased to work with such a professional and capable aviation task force," said MAJ Matthew Bowman, 2nd SFAB Brigade Aviation Officer. "Their intensity, expertise, and readiness enhanced our ability to perform our job while training at JRTC and we welcome the opportunity to work with 2-227th Aviation Regiment and the 1st Air Cav again."