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    Deployed National Guardsmen train with active-duty aviation and air defense to grow ability to plan and train for combat



    Story by Maj. Avery Schneider 

    New York National Guard

    National Guard Soldiers deployed to Europe recently spent time training with active-duty counterparts to improve their ability to plan and win future battles together.

    The Guardsmen, serving in Grafenwoehr, Germany with the New York National Guard’s Task Force Orion, 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team on the Joint Multinational Training Group – Ukraine mission, met aviators from the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and air defenders from 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment to learn how their unique assets can be incorporated into large scale combat operations.

    In December, Task Force Orion treated a holiday lull in their mission training the Ukrainian Armed Forces as an opportunity to train themselves. For two weeks, officers and noncommissioned officers assigned to the task force’s training team turned their focus to the military decision-making process – better known as MDMP.

    The seven-step process is used at battalion-level and above to enable commanders and their staffs to understand a situation and mission, develop a course of action, and produce a well thought-out plan for operations.

    The Soldiers of Task Force Orion represent 57 different military occupational specialties. And while each will get some exposure to different branches and jobs in the course of their careers, the scope of that exposure can be limited.

    “We do get kind of siloed in the way we think within our branch,” said Capt. Ishfaque Kamal, an air defense officer assigned to the task force. “But in today’s battle space, especially after fighting 20 years of [counter-insurgency] war, battlefields are changing back to conventional war again.”

    Because of that return to focusing on conventional warfare and large scale combat operations, it is more critical than ever that Army officers and NCOs in both active and reserve components understand the different branches and capabilities across the joint force, and how to incorporate them into plans for training and combat.

    To help break out of siloes, and as a bonus to cap off MDMP training, Kamal organized a meeting with the aviation and air defense units stationed nearby at Katterbach Army Airfield.

    Standing in front of an AH-64D Apache Longbow, 1st Lt. Sean Schlagel, an aviation officer assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Battalion), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, explained the capabilities of the helicopter and how it is employed.

    “The most critical thing Soldiers should understand about attack aviation is that we are a maneuver asset. We are like tanks or infantry. We can maneuver around the battlefield,” Schlagel said.

    Schlagel told the group that aviation units can plan and execute missions based on minimal information, and aviators can determine where they need to go and whether to engage an enemy or not.

    Capt. Michael Archer, an air defense artillery officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, gave Task Force Orion an overview of his battalion’s equipment and their mission to provide short-range air defense.

    “While we are combat arms, we are here to support maneuver forces and enable their operations so that aerial threats do not impact their capabilities,” Archer said.

    5-4 ADA was the first U.S. Army unit to field and test the prototype Maneuver Short Range Air Defense system, and will be the first M-SHORAD battalion in the Army.

    Seeing an Apache or getting inside one of the Army’s newest pieces of air defense equipment is a rarity for most Soldiers – perhaps even more so for National Guardsmen from New York. Because the makeup of units in the National Guard vary from state to state, there is no guarantee that Task Force Orion’s Soldiers would see 12th CAB and 5-4 ADA’s types of equipment at home. New York’s 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade has no attack aircraft, and the nearest air defense units are hundreds of miles away in Ohio and North Carolina.

    So Schlagel and Archer made the most of Task Force Orion’s visit.

    The Guardsmen got a chance to sit in the cockpit of the Apache and see what pilots see. They were given a ride in a CH-47 Chinook to get a feel for Army cargo aviation capabilities. And Archer’s team showed them around the inside of the M-SHORAD and the outside of the long-utilized Avenger Air Defense System.

    Over the last 20 years, National Guard and active-duty Soldiers have developed a robust history of working together in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on various training and operational missions around the world. Professional development opportunities like this one are an essential way to maintain interoperability between active and reserve units.

    “It’s only through having meetings like this, having engagements, and having these shared collaborative experiences that we can truly become the most effective force working together,” Archer said.



    Date Taken: 01.04.2023
    Date Posted: 01.30.2023 09:07
    Story ID: 437438
    Location: KATTERBACH, BY, DE 
    Hometown: COLFAX, CA, US
    Hometown: GRAND JUNCTION, CO, US
    Hometown: MIDDLE ISLAND, NY, US

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