News: 1st Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Attack Reconnaissance Battalion adapts aviation support to theater conditions
Story by Capt. Katherine Zyla
By Capt. Katherine O. Zyla
Multi-National Division - Center
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - 1st Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Attack Reconnaissance Battalion brings strength to Task Force 449 Aviation Brigade and supports ground elements across Multi-National Division - Center through show of force, reconnaissance and presence patrols.
The Soldiers of 1-4 ARB from Ft. Hood, Texas, have been in theater eight months, assigned to Multi-National Division - Baghdad, and have continuously adjusted tactics, techniques and procedures to meet the Security Agreement between Iraq and the coalition forces. The support the battalion is providing to Task Force 449, and has recently provided to the elections, is not much different than what the unit has been doing since the Security Agreement took effect Jan. 1. The difference is 1-4 ARB now primarily supports MND-C instead of MND-B Brigade Combat Teams.
"We are flying more friendly in support of the Iraqi security forces," said Maj. Philip E. Graham, battalion operations officer, "We continue to show force and presence without hindering the Iraqi security forces ability as they continue to take over operations."
The battalion has recently focused on reconnaissance missions in support of the Iraqi elections as well as continuing to provide convoy escort and a host of other security missions.
"Our mission in support of the elections changed slightly. We shifted the majority of our teams to the times in which the polling stations were open and most people were active," said Maj. Tammy L. Baugh, 1-4 ARB executive officer. "Even though we shifted forces, our presence remained a re-enforcement to the security provided by both Iraqi security forces and coalition forces on the ground."
Graham, a Rogersville, Tenn. native, said Soldiers within the battalion understand the importance of the elections.
"The Iraqi provincial elections are important because it marks a continued march in the right direction for this country through a dispersion of political power down to the local leader level," said Chief Warrant Officer John Zimmerman, an instructor pilot. "The security of the country is currently under the leadership of Iraqis, who are extremely committed to ensuring the polls are secure for the voting population."
Zimmerman, who flew during the elections, said his job was to provide early warning to the Iraqi security forces, through the use of liaison teams on the ground, of anything that violated the security provisions set forth by Iraqi leadership.
"Our mission was to help the ISF interdict possible attacks in a timely manner and prevent the loss of innocent Iraqi lives," said the Houston, Texas, native. "From the air, our Longbow Apaches witnessed thousands of Iraqi citizens exercise their newfound freedom by visiting the polls and casting their ballots. "
While assigned to MND-B, the pilots of 1-4 ARB were part of counter-indirect fire missions, tasked with providing over watch of the urban areas and helping ground units with the security transition since the summer of 2008.
"It has been a collective effort, helping change the tone towards Iraqi self sustainment and implementation, getting conditions set for the security agreement, and now for elections," said Graham.
Graham said the pilots are dedicated to flying missions and supporting personnel on the ground. They have adapted to the evolving operational environment, what they can and cannot do, and continue to support ground commanders in every way they can.
"Our junior aviators have surpassed our expectations regarding their experience level and the skills required from them to meet the commander's intent," said Chief Warrant Officer Jim Oliphant, battalion standardization pilot, who has served in the Army for 20 years.
"Regardless of the mission, be it reconnaissance, security or attack, the pilot's ability to seamlessly participate in the combined arms fight; from Air-Ground Integration, sensor to shooter operations, and joint operations, to supporting a two-man sniper team or providing security for a four vehicle convoy, their ability to support the ground commander is impressive," added the Copperas Cove, Texas native.
1-4 ARB's mission and high operational tempo will not change now that they are working with Task Force 449; however, they will fly over more rural areas than urban.
"Our dedicated focus to providing the ground commander the support he needs; our constant desire to refine our mission to complement his objectives; and assisting the Iraqi forces will not change," said Graham, who has been in the Army for 15 years.
Not only do 1-4 ARB's aircrews fly an average of 90 hours a month, but the maintainers meet the demanding maintenance requirements for the aircraft to be operational, keeping the AH-64D Apache helicopters and crews in the air.
"We are able to do more with less because of the excellent Soldiers we have across the board," said Graham. "They are dedicated to the mission and practice our philosophy 'launch, recover, launch'."
The transition from 4th Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade to Task Force 449 has been seamless; 1-4 ARB has continued its mission of show of force, reconnaissance and presence patrols.
The Soldiers of 1-4 ARB replaced 4/3 Armored Cavalry Regiment in the summer of 2008 in MND-B's operational environment and again on Jan. 20.
"The transition with 4/3 Armored Cavalry Regiment was seamless," said Baugh, a Brillion, Wis. native. "Knowing the organization and personnel from the previous relief in place greatly assisted in our ability to receive and carry out the mission. "
Being familiar with 4/3 ACR's tactics, techniques and procedures helped the transition; however, 4/3's Soldiers' professionalism and TF 449's support made an impact as well.
"We cannot say enough good things about the high caliber of Soldiers in 4/3 ACR, and we owe them a lot," said Baugh, who has been in the Army 13 years. "TF 449 has accepted us wholeheartedly. Although we are not organic to TF 449, they have made us feel we are part of the team."
This work, 1st Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Attack Reconnaissance Battalion adapts aviation support to theater conditions, by CPT Katherine Zyla, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.