BY SGT. DANIEL SCHROEDER – WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii – In preparation for its upcoming deployment, the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) recently conducted a Culminating Training Event (CTE). The CTE allowed the 25th CAB and its subordinate battalions to train on mission critical tasks in order to increase their mission readiness.
During the CTE, the 25th CAB had aviation task forces operating in four different training locations simulating the distributed operational environment in Afghanistan. These locations included; Fort Carson, Colo., the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, La., the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA)on the big island of Hawaii, and Wheeler Army Airfield on the island of Oahu.
“The CTE provided the brigade and its subordinate units an opportunity to solve tough realistic problem sets that we will face in Afghanistan,” said Col. Frank Tate, 25th CAB Commander. “The unit staffs were challenged to refine systems and products which improved the communication throughout the brigade, ultimately resulting in a more detailed decision-making process that will save lives and resources downrange.”
The CTE provided an opportunity for the most recent addition to the Wings of Lightning Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion out of Fort Carson, Colo., to familiarize its personnel with all brigade procedures.
“1-2 ARB functioned well as a task force with CAB units from Hawaii,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joe Roland, 25th CAB Standards Officer. “The task force did very well in reacting to the missions and scenarios presented to them.”
In order to make the CTE more realistic, the 25th CAB transformed local training areas to resemble the operating environment in RC (South). In order to accomplish this, the CAB requested assistance from other units on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. These units provided Soldiers to serve as civilians on the battlefield, opposing forces, and media on the battlefield.
In this scenario, the exercise control cell was comprised of personnel designated as the opposing forces (OPFOR) and role-players for the CAB’s future higher headquarters, Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF)-82.
“The exercise control cell did a great job of keeping the brigade on it’s toes,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Pete Mansoor, CAB Tactical Operations and Special Projects Officer. “We had the ability during this training to place civilians, vehicles and clutter on the battlefield to allow for a more realistic training environment.”
In order for the CAB to receive guidance on areas for improvement, Observer Controllers (OC) were needed on location to evaluate the task forces on mission planning and execution.
“The OCs were sent out to the training locations to monitor, evaluate and mentor the task forces during both the Situational Training Exercise (STX) lanes and full spectrum aviation operations,” said Roland. “The OCs placed subject-matter experts throughout each task force to monitor how the units operated.”
During the CTE, each task force executed gunnery, air assault, aerial quick reaction force, emergency resupply, downed aircraft recovery, medical evacuation and personnel recovery operations. The missions that were executed are critical for the BDE’s success for the upcoming deployment.
Following the completion of CTE missions, the brigade began to redeploy its Soldiers and assets back to Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii and Fort Carson, Colo.
“Our main efforts are now on redeploying all Soldiers and equipment safely, executing High Altitude Mountainous Environment Training (HAMET) in Fort Carson, and continuing to build upon the momentum from the CTE,” said Col. Tate. “The 25th CAB is grateful for the tremendous support from the 159th CAB Task Force Thunder, 25th Infantry Division (ID), 2nd ID, 10th Special Forces Group, U.S. Army Command Pacific, U.S. Army Alaska, the Baltimore Air National Guard, U.S. Army National Guard Hawaii, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, and the Naval Special Warfare Group for aiding us in our preparation for deployment.”