By Sgt. Shanika L. FutrellDecember 7, 2012
The day started off like any other day -- there were shift changes, nothing significant to report, and then out of nowhere came the deployment order to stand-up Task Force Wings (for training purposes only).
"As a battalion task force, we have a responsibility to be ready to deploy," said Maj. Paul Moreshead, the operations officer for the 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, and Task Force Wings. "The world is a dynamic place, and we have a requirement as a battalion to be ready to go."
To stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy the enemies of the United States, Soldiers place the mission first and train as hard as they can to become and stay experts in their career field. The 159th Combat Aviation "Thunder" Brigade's Soldiers took training one step further.
"The American people trust us to secure their future and when the Nation calls we will be ready," said Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, the commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). "Wherever we go, we will succeed, and we will win! Our Soldiers and units are highly trained, disciplined and fit -- ready to deploy together, fight together and win."
The 4th Bn., 101st Avn. Rgt., Soldiers returned from their deployment in Feb. 2012 and by Aug. 2012 they were told to get out in the field to train and prepare for that unexpected call.
"After we came home from Afghanistan, the brigade staff looked at the battalions across the brigade and based on the manning and the equipment (the 4th Bn., 101st Avn. Rgt.), was the best choice to be ready the quickest," said Moreshead.
Soldiers from each task force of the Thunder Brigade, came together to form Task Force Wings in order to support training with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. An alliance like Task Force Wings and the 2nd BCT is a rarity, and a great way to keep every section within the units, deployment ready.
"The training was for us as a staff to develop our procedures and processes as a battalion," said Moreshead. "We had to integrate our task force to the non-organic companies and build a rapport and procedures with them, (while simultaneously) building a relationship with the (82nd) brigade."
This alliance trained through two different rotations -- the first was Joint Operations Aviation Exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C. from Aug. 19-29, and the last was at the Joint Readiness Training Center near Fort Polk, La., from Oct. 2-23.
Moreshead said the purpose of training together was to practice unified land operations tasks that the 2nd BCT's task force needed to be prepared to do if they were called upon to deploy.
JOAX was the time to work out the kinks. These two separate units worked hard to get all of the new Soldiers and Soldiers who hadn't deployed for some time, up to par. The commanders came together and developed a training plan to ensure training was tough and realistic.
"The primary purpose of JOAX was to prepare Task Force Wings for an unexpected deployment," said Maj. Arlin Wilsher, the executive officer for the 4th Bn., 101st Avn. Rgt.
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"We trained on the deployment of equipment and personnel to another location in support of a ground unit, in this case it was an airborne seizure of an airfield," said Wilsher. "We sent out an operations order to lower levels, and we let them make the calls as to what they needed to survive a deployment or training in the field."
After the training was over, the Soldiers conducted and After-Action Report. This is especially important to do before a unit deploys because it allows the unit to assess the issues in order to be successful.
"We did well as a battalion," said Moreshead. "We filtered through all of the issues and concerns from JOAX and implemented the solution before we redeployed the battalion to JRTC."
JRTC was when the pressure was on. For training purposes only, helicopters were shot down, Soldiers were killed, and vehicles were blown up. Soldiers had to learn what to do in the worst case scenarios, because deployment is no walk in the park for everyone.
"JRTC was a further practice for the responsibilities we have during any deployment," said Wilsher. "The responsibilities were our deployment capabilities -- equipment and personnel to another location, support the 82nd airfield seizure, establishing lodgment, and conducting defensive and offensive operations against an enemy threat further enhancing our capabilities that we bring to the mission."
There were several different military occupational specialties making up Task Force Wings and one MOS could not have been successful without the other.
"We have to provide the fuel for every operation," said Spc. Clive Bernard, a petroleum supply specialist with the Company E, 4th Bn., 101st Avn. Rgt. "During JRTC, one of the (forward arming and refueling points) went down. We had to set up a jump-FARP immediately to allow the aircraft to get back into the fight in a timely manner. We also wanted to be there to ensure they were topped off in the event they needed to get somewhere fast."
Providing fuel and aviation capabilities for the mission are just a few necessities, but even the unsung heroes are important to the mission.
"A hot meal equals happy Soldiers, and that is what we strive to do -- keep them happy and well fed," said Sgt. Roderick Young, a food service NCO for Task Force Wings.
Meals ready-to-eat, better known as MREs, are what many Soldiers are used to when in the field, but the leadership of the 4th Bn., 101st Avn. Rgt., "Task Force Wings," know it takes more than that to keep the mission going.
"If you take care of your Soldiers, they will take care of you," said Chaplain (Capt.) Tim Raburn, the chaplain for Task Force Wings.
At the end of JRTC, Soldiers were evaluated and after action reviews were given.
"I think the JRTC rotation was invaluable to Task Force Wings," said Wilsher. "It allowed us another opportunity to have close coordination with the 82nd; also it allowed us to exercise many facets between air assaults and setting up jump FARPs, pulling security, conducting attack operations and cavalry operations to going against an enemy threat out there trying to find us and shoot us down, and being evaluated by the (Observer Controllers) who actually gave us some great feedback on what we did right or what we could do better to make the mission successful."
Moreshead said that Task Force Wings benefited from working with the 82nd, he hopes to preserve their relationship and expressed that Task Force Wings will continue to train, so when they are called upon they will be ready.
"It was a great opportunity to work with the 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division," said Moreshead. "We learned a lot from each other. We established communication well, we cross trained personnel, and we did everything possible to ensure we were ready at a moment's notice. Task Force Wings will continue to fine tune its Soldiers skills because there could be a call at anytime and when that happens WE WILL be ready."