News: TF Wings tests deployment readiness plan
Story by Jennifer Andersson
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Soldiers of the Task Force Wings (4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade) spent four days, Aug. 21-24, rehearsing their quick-response deployment readiness capabilities.
The brigade exercised all facets of preparing an aviation task force, including its supporting elements, to deploy on short or no notice, from initial notification to loading the aircraft with personnel, gear and equipment.
“In the event we get a prepare-to-deploy order, we have to be capable of getting ourselves out the door with short notice and internal assets, meaning the majority of our support is coming out of our brigade,” said Maj. Kareem J. Toomer, the brigade’s support operations officer.
More than anything else, it’s deliberate muscle movement that prepares the unit for quick deployments, said Capt. Craig Kormannshaus, the brigade’s assistant operations officer.
“In sustained conflict, [deployment cycles are] very predictable,” he said. “You know almost from the moment you get back from theater that you’ll be going again, and you can plan on that. When you’re not in sustained conflict, you need to be able to react more quickly because you don’t know what is coming next. It’s not as predictable… It’s, ‘Hey, I’m training, I’m keeping my units trained. We don’t know where we’re going, but we have a training plan and we’re ready if we need to go anywhere.’”
This exercise’s objective was to validate TF Wings’ ability to rapidly deploy within established response standards.
The day before the evaluation concluded, the units were meeting and exceeding the standards set for Army deployments, said Maj. Marcus Vartan, a 101st Airborne Division operations officer, an evaluator and planner for the deployment readiness exercise.
“The units are doing a heck of a good job,” he said. “They are on track, they’re highly motivated, and they’re taking this exercise seriously.”
Naturally, every well-laid plan will have its hiccups, and with each hiccup comes a lesson learned.
“The purpose of this exercise was to work through the issues and friction points ahead of time, so when it comes time to do this, if it presents itself, we’re prepared and exercised it already, so everyone’s familiar, down to the lowest soldier level. They’ll know where they need to go and what they need to do.”
This exercise allowed all soldiers to learn something new about what it takes to deploy with this unit.
Barry Schewe, an AH-64D Apache armament, electrical and avionics systems repairer with Company B, 563rd Aviation Support Battalion, said he learned that rigging the portable containers in a certain way helps with not only efficiency, but saves time when soldiers deploy.
Tyler Hill, also an AH-64D Apache armament, electrical and avionics systems repairer with Company B, 563rd ASB learned to expect anything at any time.
“[Otherwise], the minor stuff ends up turning out to be bigger stuff,” he said. “You’ve got to stay flexible.”
After completing the exercise, the task force was able to analyze errors and take corrective actions to improve deployment readiness and processing functions.
Kormannshaus said one of the learning points the brigade is taking away from this exercise is refined guidance.
Being able to disseminate the guidance from the top to the lowest levels quickly is imperative.
“Communication is key,” Toomer said. “We can talk about readiness and amount of equipment and all that, but what it comes down to is communication.”
Communicating the lessons learned is what makes the plan stronger, and it is for that very reason soldiers train for short-notice deployments.
TF Wings soldiers pulled together and successfully completed the training exercise – personnel, gear and equipment were ready to go, right on schedule.