JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The Raptor Brigade said “G’day” to our friends from the Australian Army last week in an effort to improve bilateral integration and readiness.
The 1-229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion conducted a tactics, techniques, and procedures exchange with aviators from the 1st Aviation Regiment of the Australian Army at Gray Army Airfield, Sept. 26 – Oct. 1.
The purpose of the week-long exchange was to improve multinational relationships with the 1st AVN REGT, the only rotary wing attack formation in the Australian Army.
“It was a real enlightening experience,” said Capt. Alex Paranthoiene, the 1st AVN REGT adjutant. “Having the opportunity to compare how we conduct operations was beneficial.”
It is critical for the allies to work together due to shifting dynamics in the greater Indo-Pacific region.
“The knowledge gap that we have enjoyed for so long is dwindling rapidly,” said Lt. Col. Steve Hicks, commanding officer of the 1st AVN REGT. “With competitors in the region catching up, we have to continuously modernize how we do things and work with a coalition with the same goals.”
Hicks believes this is the key to readiness.
“We have to be ready, leave ready, and stay ready,” he said.
The Army aviators from 1-229th were able to gain a more comprehensive understanding about multinational amphibious operations from their Australian counterparts.
“The Pacific is our area of interest,” said Capt. Joshua Hamilton, the 1-229th ARB assistant operations officer. “It was good for us to simultaneously learn information that would help us be successful in that environment for future planning.”
The engagement emphasized the importance of interoperability with other nations and even the Army’s sister branches.
“It is good to continuously broaden our horizons so we can work in a multinational environment and understand how they work,” said Hamilton. “It is also extremely beneficial to do these exchanges with not only other countries, but other branches so we can continuously know how other uniform services operate.”
The connection between the units did not happen by chance. Due to a working relationship that began a decade ago, the commanding officers from both units were able to use that as a stepping stone to coordinate the visit.
“I think this is a perfect example of why building lasting relationships is important,” said Lt. Col. Steve Hicks, commanding officer of the 1st AVN REGT. “[1-229th commanding officer Lt. Col. Easter] and I met 10 years ago during an exchange in the U.K. We were able to find a time that was mutually beneficial to capitalize on that continued relationship.”
Both units believe that combined joint exchanges, like this one, are vital to the success of the Indo-Pacific region and wish to continue them in the future.
“It would be incredibly beneficial to reciprocate this small exchange,” Hicks said. “Having a team from 1-229th visit 1st AVN REGT would be a major step to continuing to build this relationship moving forward.”