News: Wisconsin Guard aviators, infantry, artillery team up for training
Story by Vaughn Larson
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - Three Wisconsin Army National Guard battalions joined forces July 23 to hone their combat skills, and leverage different skill sets, in a complex training scenario.
The 1st Battalion, 147th Air Assault Aviation Regiment airlifted two 105 mm howitzers and a pallet of ammo from the 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery, as well as cannon crew members, from one Fort McCoy location to another as part of an artillery raid training scenario.
The artillery raid, intended to suppress notional "enemy" air defenses, supported an air assault mission by Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment into a mock village to rescue a captured U.S. service member and detain a high-value enemy target.
Nearly 120 soldiers from the Green Bay-based unit were flown to a site adjacent to the mock village, where they conducted a raid and clearing mission.
"This is the culmination of seven or eight days of coordination and planning," said Capt. Dan Peterson, the battalion operations officer for the 2-127th. "This is the first time in anyone's memory that they can remember doing this in the Wisconsin Army National Guard."
This type of mission is known as "combined arms" as it involves different dedicated skill sets, often referred to as military occupational specialties. In addition, such a mission subjects soldiers to new requirements — preparing cannons and cargo for sling-loading, properly establishing areas for Black Hawk helicopters to land, and loading on and off a helicopter safely and quickly in a hostile environment.
But making a training mission such as this happen takes more than combat skills. Such seemingly mundane administrative tasks as submitting requests, coordinating meetings, conducting briefings and rehearsals were completed before the Black Hawk's blades first began turning.
"Quite a bit is involved in making it happen," said Capt. Lisa Hendershot, commander of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation, adding that the planning was worth the effort. "This is actually the first time we've ever done a combined arms air assault with the 32nd Brigade and worked to support a mission like this for them."
The 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry and 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery are subordinate units of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The Madison-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation is part of the 64th Troop Command Brigade.
Hendershot said the Black Hawk pilots prefer real passengers for air assault training missions.
"You get more real-life scenarios," she explained. "Having the troops involved and the equipment to sling-load — everybody is getting better value out of the training. The pilots love it because we're an air assault battalion — this is what we're meant to do. To actually go out and execute is great for us. The infantry guys are thrilled to be on the aircraft to load their equipment and hone those skills they don't otherwise get to use."
Staff Sgt. Daniel Stanke of Bonduel, Wis., a squad leader in Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, agreed.
"It was some of the best training I've ever had," Stanke said. "I've never done an air assault mission before, and doing this was really exhilarating."