By Curtis Shinsato, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Battle Command Training CenterNovember 15, 2010
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD - A copilot sat in an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter gunship as it zoomed across the desert, recently.
From his seat, Staff Sgt. Chad Church, Apache Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, could hear close-combat attack information, or CCA, exchanged between the requesting ground team and the pilot.
Distance, direction and target description were provided from the ground. Church only needed a few moments to visualize the situation on the ground before his helicopter arrived.
As the pilot searched for the specified white truck parked next to a building, Church spotted two white trucks parked next to a one-story building and another one next to a three-story building.
Church then realized that the ground and air perspective can be very different. What seemed like clear instructions from the ground were unclear from the air.
After confirming which white truck to attack, the aircrew then noticed a hospital and a crowd of civilians boarding a bus nearby. Did the ground team know of these people'
Undeterred, the pilot changed his vector of attack and avoided collateral damage.
Once the mission was completed, Church thanked the pilot and climbed out of the copilot's seat. His next task was to direct helicopter CCAs from the ground.
Bearing in mind the copilot's perspective he had experienced, he was eager to practice what he had just learned.
Military occupational specialty 19D, or cavalry scouts, don't take joyrides in real Kiowa Warrior helicopters, so the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer is the ticket for no-cost CAA training, here.
As Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mike Leneave, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th ID, told his students, the AVCATT is "as close to the real thing as you can get."
According to Church, being in the AVCATT and talking to the pilots "is a real confidence builder for the lower enlisted."
"Where else can you talk on the radio and direct aviation assets on to a target in Afghanistan'" he said.
Units interested in scheduling AVCATT training or other training simulations can contact the Battle Command Training Center, here, at 808-655-2689.