Kentucky Guard aviation brigade demonstrates readiness

By 1st Lt. Kaitlin Baudendistel, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs OfficeJuly 3, 2023

Members of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, Kentucky Army National Guard, take a break during the Warfighter 23-05 exercise May 27-June 13, 2023.
Members of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, Kentucky Army National Guard, take a break during the Warfighter 23-05 exercise May 27-June 13, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Kaitlin Baudendistel) VIEW ORIGINAL

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The combat readiness and capabilities of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, supported by the 751st Troop Command, were tested during the Warfighter 23-05 exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.

The 63rd TAB, acting as a combat aviation brigade at the corps level, executed large-scale combat operations May 27-June 13, showcasing proficiency and tactical expertise in a simulated battlefield. The exercise identified strengths and areas for improvement, enabling the units to fine-tune tactics and ensure seamless integration with ground forces.

One of the significant challenges faced by the 63rd TAB was transitioning from a theater aviation brigade to a combat aviation brigade, incorporating attack assets into their force structure.

Col. Mike Armstrong, the commander of the 63rd TAB, acknowledged the challenges and the unit’s progress.

“As a TAB, we don’t have attack assets within our force structure,” he said. ”Employing and implementing attack assets is a new concept for our headquarters and lower command.

“From [command post exercise] one, two and three to where we are now, we have grown leaps and bounds. We’ve been able to fully integrate all our systems which we would use in a secret environment and learn how those systems feed information to the staff to analyze and bring to me as the brigade commander to understand my risk and authority for how to implement our assets.”

Spc. Connor Ridings, Kentucky National Guard, builds links on an Air Defense Systems Integrator to provide command and control data and track the activity of friendly and enemy forces within the airspace of the unit’s area of operations. The combat readiness and capabilities of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, supported by the 751st Troop Command, were tested during the Warfighter 23-05 exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, May 27-June 13, 2023.
Spc. Connor Ridings, Kentucky National Guard, builds links on an Air Defense Systems Integrator to provide command and control data and track the activity of friendly and enemy forces within the airspace of the unit’s area of operations. The combat readiness and capabilities of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, supported by the 751st Troop Command, were tested during the Warfighter 23-05 exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, May 27-June 13, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Kaitlin Baudendistel) VIEW ORIGINAL

Armstrong commended every Soldier who participated at the battalion and brigade level.

“This has been a great experience. The morale and desire to learn has been tremendous. Everyone has been open to learning new things and new positions, and how a combat aviation brigade fits into all the warfighting functions and how we implement that overall.”

The 751st Troop Command, led by Lt. Col. Stephen Martin, played a crucial role as the lower command element providing simulated battalions for the combat aviation brigade. The 751st received missions, executed them on the simulated network and provided valuable feedback to the brigade staff sections.

“I was fortunate to get to work with a phenomenal team. Even with a regularly changing schedule and a 24-hour requirement, their motivation outpaced all the other lower command elements we worked alongside,” said Martin. We took pride in getting the first simulated enemy engagement and the last with our Grey Eagle Unit.”

Throughout the exercise, the 63rd TAB received visits from senior leaders, including the Kentucky Guard's Assistant Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Brian Wertzler; Col. Timothy Starke, Kentucky Army National Guard director of operations; State Command Sergeant Major Jesse Withers; Chief Command Warrant Officer Ricky Skelton, and Brig. Gen. Richard Bell, deputy commanding general of the 1st Armored Division.

The Warfighter 23-05 exercise served as a testament to the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade’s combat readiness and ability to adapt to new challenges. The execution of large-scale combat operations and integration with ground forces demonstrated its proficiency, dedication and potential to contribute effectively to future missions.

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