Army aviation plays key 'Moshtarak' role
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- When Operation Moshtarak kicked off here Feb. 13, Army helicopter crews from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade inserted nearly 300 Marines and Afghan security forces into Marja, Afghanistan, under cover of darkness.

UH-60 Black Hawks, CH-47F Chinooks and AH-64 Apaches from Task Force Pegasus facilitated the air assault of Kilo Company, 3/6 Marines, in seizing their objective area.

"Protected by Apache air weapons teams, the Marines and their partnered Afghan security forces quickly began moving to their initial objective, seizing key terrain and preparing to link up with their parent headquarters scheduled to begin a ground assault into Marja," said Army Col. Paul Bricker, 82nd CAB commander.

Shortly after the Marine insertion, additional Task Force Pegasus aviation assets assisted a coalition air assault into nearby objective areas in Nad Ali. Task Force Pegasus's 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 82nd Aviation Regiment -- Task Force Wolfpack -- was one of three helicopter units involved in the operation in support of the British Task Force Jaguar.

"Their air assault was equally effective in seizing key terrain in the city of Nad Ali, located adjacent and northeast of Marja," Bricker said. "Their operation was even more complex, as it included over 20 rotary-wing aircraft from the U.S., Britain and Canada."

Task Force Pegasus continues to provide support to operation Moshtarak, but the focus has turned from aerial security to medical evacuation. Casualty evacuation teams are standing by to transport wounded coalition and Afghan forces to appropriate field hospitals as necessary.

"[The CH-47F Chinook] has been specially configured with helicopter cabin litter support systems and manned with TF Pegasus surgeons and medics to conduct critical patient transfers from less-capable combat surgical wards within Helmand province to southern Afghanistan's largest and most advanced hospital on Kandahar Air Base," Bricker said.

The 82nd CAB has completed more than 120 air-assault operations throughout southern Afghanistan over the last 10 months in support of operations by the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan forces.

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Operation Moshtarak continues in Afghanistan