ANSBACH, Germany (May 21, 2020) – Amidst the excitement of onlookers at 12th Combat Aviation Brigade headquarters (Griffin Brigade), 18 AH-64 Apache helicopters, followed by two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, took off from the Katterbach Army Airfield, May 19.
Pilots and crew members of the 1-3rd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB), known as the ‘Vipers’; and Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, known as ‘Big Windy’, embarked on a two-hour training flight in a show of strength.
Spc. Justin Cole, B. Co. 1st Bn. 214th Avn. Reg. CH-47 Chinook helicopter crew chief, said the best part of his job is being able to see things and go places that most people will never get to go.
“I have been on missions in many different Europe countries from Hungary, Romania, Poland, Italy, Cyprus, and many more,” Cole said. “But, my favorite part … is having my office 2,000 feet in the sky.
This mission was different though, he said.
“We got to be able to display the capabilities to our commanding general and brigade commander from a birds-eye view,” Cole said.
The exercise was an opportunity for the 1-3rd ARB, to conduct a training mission with the full battalion under realistic conditions, said Maj. James Antonides, battalion operations officer.
“The objective area was far enough away to necessitate detailed planning at the company and platoon level,” Antonides said. “This was a great opportunity to execute battalion collective training with a focus on large scale combat operations.”
Brig. Gen. Christopher R. Norrie, commanding general, 7th Army Training Command, joined ‘Big Windy’ on the training mission and said, the training exercise was extraordinary.
"Putting 18 Apaches into the air at one time to conduct coordinated movement and training is no small task, it reflects thousands of training hours and planning,” he said. “This is as visible a sign as any of our ability here in U.S. Army Europe to deploy combat credible formations at scale, and our ability to fight tonight in a near-peer environment."
The capabilities shown during the training exercise demonstrated the U.S. Army’s capabilities, Norrie said.
"It's a powerful message of our combat power to deter adversaries and support our Allies and partners, particularly here in Europe,” Norrie said. “For the men and women of the Griffin Brigade to be exercising at this level of collective training, while also balancing preventing the potential spread of COVID-19 and enforcing distancing whenever possible, it speaks volumes to their readiness and professionalism as an organization."
1-3rd ARB ‘Vipers’ is the only permanently stationed attack battalion in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility. The ‘Vipers’ conduct attack and reconnaissance missions for the ground force commanders utilizing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters in all-weather conditions at any time of day.