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    Aviation trainers prepare Soldiers for deployment

    Aviation trainers prepare Soldiers for deployment

    Courtesy Photo | A trainer with the 1st Battalion, 337th Aviation Regiment, Fort Knox, Ky., far right,...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Rob Cooper 

    Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

    by Rob Cooper, Crier staff writer
    Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

    CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — When service members deploy to a combat zone, they receive some of the most in-depth training to ensure mission success and their safe return home to family members.

    With the recent pre-deployment efforts of Kosovo Force 9 (KFOR9), task force units from more than 20 states and two territories, training for the peacekeeping mission has become top priority for one aviation battalion here.

    Answering the call to train an aviation task force this summer were Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 337th Aviation Regiment from Fort Knox, Ky.

    Tasked with fulfilling the training requirements set forth by U.S. Army, Europe and Seventh Army, the 1-337 "Warhawks" made sure that KFOR9's aviation assets were properly prepped for deployment.

    During the KFOR9 pre-deployment phase here, the Warhawks conducted many training scenarios that were fundamental to theater-specific requirements, said Lt. Col. Ronald D. Jones, battalion commander.

    "The training we provide is focused on security operations and support operations essential to ensuring a safe and secure environment in accordance with the United Nations Resolution 1244," Jones said.

    Through the use of battle-hardened teachers, Observer, Controller/Trainers, the Warhawks trained KFOR9 aviation assets in many areas such as air assaults and movements, reconnaissance operations, aerial medical evacuation and routine medical patient transfers. In addition to preparing them for the mission ahead, the training battalion prepared KFOR9 aviation Soldiers for the Army Training and Evaluation Program — a comprehensive "final exam" for deploying units.

    The training wasn't easy, said Capt. Kevin Keenan, an OC/T assigned to the 1-337.

    "Our training is designed to be tough and realistic, so early on in the process we bring in infantry soldiers to participate in air assaults, recon missions, and 9-Line medevac calls," he said. "By bringing together flight crews, actual KFOR9 infantry soldiers, and our OC/Ts, it not only gives us the opportunity to show the unit doctrinally how missions should be conducted, but also [Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures] from previous operations that will make them more effective."

    Jones said that the training his OC/Ts provide could be the last intensive training a mobilizing unit would receive before deploying to combat.

    "It is imperative the training is realistic, conducted in theater immersed conditions and repetitive to ensure an intuitive responsive," he said. "There is no time to pull out your notes in combat; your action must be instinctive. We owe it to every Soldier deploying to ensure they are trained to react intuitively in the most demanding situations."

    While some training consists of "by-the-book" rhetoric, KFOR9's mission demands a different approach in order to better accommodate the overall peacekeeping focus.

    "Obviously KFOR's training is unique because there is a huge emphasis placed on maintaining strong relations with the people of Kosovo," Keenan said. "It becomes obvious to every Soldier early in the training how important his or her actions are for the entire KFOR mission. Training for the medevac also is different, because there's a lot that crews need to understand if they are picking up non-U.S. KFOR Soldiers or local nationals from Kosovo."

    The training the WARHAWKS provide has even gone so far as to craft the training environment at Camp Atterbury into a setting more similar to Kosovo.

    "We shape the training areas to closely resemble the area of operations the unit will deploy to in theater," Jones said. "Towns and routes are accurately named, roads and villages are cluttered with wrecked cars and battlefield effects ... [Civilians on the Battlefield] portray the populous of local municipalities, and civic leaders who speak the appropriate language requiring the use of interpreters. This ensures Soldiers understand and train for the complexities of combat and are not seeing or adjusting to these conditions for the first time in theater."

    Having a unique approach to training is part of the OC/T mantra, as a majority of them have been deployed and have firsthand knowledge of what happens overseas.

    "My OC/Ts, like all First Army trainers, are professional subject matter experts, predominately combat veterans and schooled in the latest TTPs to train Reserve and National Guard Soldiers prior to being deployed," Jones said.

    Kennan said he believes that the 1-337 has some of the most talented individuals in the whole Army working as trainers.

    "Our trainers have experience from KFOR, OIF, OEF, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Somalia, and Central America," he said. "Frankly, if Army aviation has been there, so have we. However, the proof that we're successful here is in the strong relationships we built with the men and women deploying. Their success is our success, and we're proud to be part of their mobilization."

    As a subordinate command under First Army charged with providing aviation training, the 1-337 has an impressive track record of training. But at the end of the day, are Soldiers more prepared after receiving the guidance?

    "Without a doubt," Jones said. "To ensure all training provided is current and relevant, First Army regularly sends personnel to each theater to capture the latest changes in operational methods and developments in TTPs to incorporate into our training. Within the last six months we, sent four officers to Afghanistan and Kosovo to identify lessons learned in preparation for the two unit mobilizations we are currently conducting."



    Date Taken: 09.13.2007
    Date Posted: 09.13.2007 13:49
    Story ID: 12327
    Location: CAMP ATTERBURY, IN, US 

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