By Spc. Monica K. Smith, 3rd CAB, 3rd ID Public AffairsMay 29, 2009
FORT STEWART, Ga. - A mission's design is dictated by the unique environment of every combat situation. Soldiers, as a result, must be prepared for circumstances on any and all battlefields. The 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, in order to prepare for future combat operations, began Falcon Focus in May at Camp McGregor on Fort Bliss, Texas.
"This training is important for us," said 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Lemke. "It's one of the only chances to prepare for future combat operations in this type of environment. Falcon Focus is perfect for combat training that geared toward what we might face during our next deployment."
This particular training was unique to the CAB. Instead of each battalion or squadron focusing on their aircraft and their primary mission, the aviation brigade divided its resources amongst each of their three flight battalions and one flight squadron. For example, 3/17 Cav. traditionally only has Kiowa Warriors, under the new configuration, the Lighthorse squadron is now a task force with elements of the other battalions. This gives the Light Horse squadron Black Hawks, Chinooks, medical evacuation and Apaches to utilize under their command.
"It's essentially a smaller version of the CAB - a mini-CAB," said Lt. Laura Naigle, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3/17 Cav., and Task Force Lighthorse battle captain. "We're becoming a multi-functional task force where we deal with all the same mission sets and airframes across the board. The goal is to increase our strength so each task force can be fully capable of completing the mission of the CAB from any location."
As the first of four training iterations at Fort Bliss, 3/17 Cav. had the difficult duty of designing their two-week training from scratch.
"(Falcon Focus) is different for us in that we had to establish everything from the ground up," said Command Sgt. Maj. Lemke. "It was an obstacle to overcome, but we did what we had to do. In the end, we did numerous MEDEVAC missions using Soldiers and simulated casualty kits. We provided our own (opposition forces) daily, so pilots could see what insurgents look like."
During Task Force Lighthorse's time at Falcon Focus, they conducted downed aircraft recovery team training, combat life savers recertification, and M9 and M16 ranges.
In addition the task force also trained their Soldiers to respond to vehicles hit by improvised explosive devices and conducted combat life saving situational training exercises.
"It's absolutely paramount that we provide these troops realistic combat training," said Command Sgt. Maj. Lemke. "In my opinion, we have accomplished that here."
At the end of Task Force Lighthorse's two weeks of training, 3/17 Cav. commander, Lt. Col. Thomas von Eschenbach, said he felt proud of the training that was accomplished during Falcon Focus.
"This was the best training event I've been apart of because I personally learned a lot," said Lt. Col. von Eschenbach. "We came here as a bunch of separate organizations and I feel like we're leaving as a team. What began as 'they, them, those,' became 'we and us.' That's what it's all about."