BAGHDAD—A U.S. Army aviation unit continued its expansion across Iraq, July 23, completing two transfers of authority ceremonies on U.S. bases in the country’s northern region.
The ceremonies transferred responsibility for aviation operations in northern Iraq from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade to the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, a one-of-a-kind aviation unit from Fort Riley, Kan.
Iraq is divided into three U.S. divisions: northern, central and southern. The CAB, 1st Inf. Div. now supports two of these three.
The brigade is serving as the aviation asset for northern and central Iraq and is the designated aviation unit for U.S. Forces-Iraq. The brigade is scheduled to assume responsibility for U.S. Division-South in August, according to Col. Frank Muth, brigade commander.
The CAB, 1st Inf. Div., is the Army’s first enhanced combat aviation brigade, commanding nearly 4,000 troops and several hundred aircraft. It is scheduled to be the Army’s sole aviation asset supporting Operation New Dawn this September.
Now, the unit’s main focus is the reduction of forces, said Muth.
The unit is heavily involved in the drawdown of troops and equipment in Iraq. It has moved around 40,000 people and over one million pounds of cargo in the four months of its deployment.
Even with the brigade’s support, however, many U.S. forces are still required to leave the country by road. The brigade’s attack and reconnaissance helicopters provide security for these movements, said Muth.
The number of service members in Iraq is scheduled to drop to 50,000 by the end of the summer, in accordance with the U.S.-Iraqi Security Agreement.