Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Craig Cantrell
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in January.
Approximately 400 Soldiers deployed to support aviation operations in southern Afghanistan, marking the aviation unit’s first deployment from Fort Carson since it relocated to the Mountain Post from Camp Eagle, Korea, three years ago.
The “Attack Battalion,” part of 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, will rely on its seasoned veterans to lead first-time deployment Soldiers into combat, said Master Sgt. Jim Williams, senior aviation operations sergeant, 1st Bn., 2nd Avn. Reg.
“We have a lot of aviators and senior noncommissioned officers that have deployed before, that are throwing a lot of experience into the deployment,” said Williams.
The brigade prepared for its first deployment since arriving at the Mountain Post by conducting multiple field training exercises and a culminating training event — a month-long exercise testing the equipment the unit took on the deployment.
The battalion conducted High Altitude Mountain Environment Training, familiarizing pilots with flying at high altitudes and landing on rugged terrain in the Rocky Mountains, and sharpened its skills during four rotations in two years to the U.S. Army National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
The Attack Battalion deployed to southern Afghanistan to support ground forces, conduct reconnaissance missions and provide air transportation support, said Williams.
Once in theater, the battalion operations center will guide and consistently update more than 30 aircraft flying over Afghanistan at any time, said Maj. Nicholas Dall, operations officer, 1st Bn., 2nd Avn. Reg.
“We will watch the fight as it happens; we will give command decisions on aircraft lifts and movements,” said Cpl. Akeem Robinson, aviation operations specialist, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 2nd Avn. Reg.
The battalion deployed a variety of aviation support-trained professionals, including repairmen, armament specialists and air traffic controllers.
“Anything that makes it fly, anything that has power running through it, anything that makes it shoot — that is what we fix,” said Sgt. Chris Maxwell, an AH-64D attack helicopter armament, electrical, avionics repairer, assigned to Company D, 1st Bn., 2nd Avn. Reg.
“We’re really excited about getting out of Fort Carson, heading downrange, conducting the mission and being part of the fight,” said Williams.
The Attack Battalion main body deployed forward, leaving a rear detachment to provide support for the deployed troops and handle the stateside mission.
The Family readiness group works directly with the Attack Battalion rear detachment to ensure all Family member issues are taken care of, said Capt. Aaron Rettke, rear detachment commander, 1st Bn., 2nd Avn. Reg.
The FRG provides Soldiers peace of mind knowing that the rear detachment and FRG will take care of business at home station, so the Soldiers can accomplish the mission, said Williams.
“My unit’s mission is to bring everyone back safe,” said Robinson. “Get over there, accomplish the mission and bring 100 percent (of our Soldiers) back.”
The 1st Bn., 2nd Avn. Reg., is slated for a 12-month deployment to southern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.