CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – As colder weather descends upon Texas, the blowing sand of the Kuwaiti desert continues to challenge some of its Army Aviators and Soldiers.
Since April, the 449th Aviation Support Battalion has endured harsh conditions that even few Texans will ever experience with daily high temperatures over 100 degrees for five months straight, and with many days exceeding 120 degrees.
These Texas Army National Guard Soldiers, with a detachment from Arkansas, are deployed with the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The brigade’s mission is to provide security to the region and build partnerships with countries that will further long-term stability in and around the Arabian Gulf.
A significant key to regional security is the free flow of maritime traffic in the Arabian Gulf. Of particular importance is the Strait of Hormuz between the United Arab Emirates and Iran, which is crucial to the export of oil to the world market.
The 449th’s specific mission is to provide aviation maintenance, supply, fuel distribution, medical, and signal support for the Soldiers, aircraft and equipment within the brigade. Once used as a stepping stone for units headed north into Iraq, Camp Buehring is their home base for operations and training missions across the region.
During a recent training mission, Soldiers loaded military vehicles onto a U.S. Army cargo transport vessel for a trip into the Arabian Gulf and the reconnaissance of a refueling point for a future event. The combined arms training aboard U.S. Army Vessel (USAV) Churubusco (LCU-2013) was new for these Texas Soldiers. In fact very few of them knew that the U.S. Army has such an extensive fleet of watercraft.
The Texas Soldiers are also working with the Kuwaiti Air Force and other multi-national partners in the region to strengthen ties, execute joint training events, and learn best practices from each other to provide long-term stability.
Lt. Col. Bradford Hughes, commander of the 449th, said “Working with the Kuwaitis has been fantastic."
“We’re learning a lot from them in terms of their expertise in different ways that they approach military operations,” Hughes said. “The partnership events that we do are the wave of the future and it’s been a positive experience.”
Col. Rick Adams, the 36th CAB Commander, said, "As the U.S. military moves into the future, the 449th is on the tip of the spear with regard to Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational (JIIM) operations.”
“Lt. Col Hughes and his Soldiers have excelled in everything that we’ve asked them to do here in Kuwait and across the region,” Adams said. “We're privileged to be in a time and location where the elements of combined arms merge, offering opportunities for them to advance their skills geometrically."
Hughes, of Austin, Texas, is very appreciative of all the support that his Soldiers have received from the families back home.
“To the families back home, we’re on final approach. We’ll be back in about a month,” Hughes said. “Your Soldiers are doing great and everybody is looking forward to getting back to Texas and Arkansas.”
The 449th ASB will return to their home base in San Antonio this winter.