MCGREGOR RANGE COMPLEX, N.M. — Soldiers from 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry, out of Fort Drum, N.Y., provided aerial support to units participating in Network Integration Evaluation 14.1 held at Fort Bliss, Texas, and surrounding areas.
The cavalry unit evaluated radio equipment for air-to-ground communications during the monthlong NIE.
“Communication is the biggest thing on the battlefield; it has always been a crutch,” said Sgt. Adam Norwich, Troop C, 6-6 Cav., maintenance supervisor. “Right now I think we are trying to enhance that and turn our weakness into our strong point. If we can get this communication down between the air crews and the ground crews, it’s going to be a game changer.”
In order to assess the abilities of the radio communication equipment, it is necessary for the cavalry unit to simulate real-world situations.
“We support the ground units,” said Norwich, a native of Genoa City, Wis. “Every time a ground commander says they need something, we are there - anything from supporting convoys to reconnaissance.”
With the hours of air support provided by 6-6 Cav. comes the required maintenance for the helicopters. Norwich is responsible for ensuring the aircraft are available and fully functional for missions.
“It’s my job from when a lieutenant hands me a flight schedule that we make that mission happen,” said Norwich.
As with any noncommissioned officer in the Army, it is also Norwich’s responsibility to ensure his troops are proficient in in their jobs. He took time from his additional duties to provide some hands-on mentoring to his soldiers.
“[Today] I was doing a uniball friction check,” said Pfc. Kayla Cole, an OH-58D Kiowa helicopter repairer with Troop C, 6-6 Cav. “Basically it’s where you make sure that the movement of it is within range. It is part of the [progressive phase maintenance] we do every so often.”
Cole, who has been in the Army for approximately a year, said she learned a lot from her troop.
“Since we have been out here we have been doing a lot of work, group bonding, learning a lot,” said Cole, who is originally from Piedmont, Mo. “It’s good experience for everybody. I have learned so much since I have been here.”
Events such as NIE add a sense of urgency and realism, allowing soldiers like Cole, who have not yet deployed, to get the training required to function at high levels needed for success.
NIE is a semi-annual, soldier-led evaluation with the purpose of validating and evaluating new equipment and up-grades to current equipment, while emphasizing mission readiness and training.