Deployed Forces: Air assault mission shows commitment to deter enemy

| March 5, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photo by
Staff Sgt. Mike Alberts
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — By 7:50 a.m., Feb. 17, helicopters inserted the last of more than 300 Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. Soldiers into four towns along a seam of a territory spanning Iraq’s northern provinces of Diyala and Salah ad-Din.

Iraqi Security Force Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 19th Iraqi Army Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, and U.S. Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, practice exiting a Hawaii-based CH-47D Chinook helicopter, moments prior to a combined air assault mission from Contingency Operating Location Grizzly, Diyala province, Iraq, Feb 17. The combined air assault, Operation Tomahawk Condor, was mission-complete five hours later, having confiscated six illegal weapons and detained four suspected terrorists.

About 100 Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 19th Iraqi Army Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, and more than 200 Soldiers of the 1st Bn., 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Bde., 2nd Inf. Div., conducted the Iraqi-led air assault mission from Contingency Operating Location Grizzly, Diyala province, Iraq.

The ground units received aviation support from the Hawaii-based 25th Combat Aviation Bde., Task Force Wings, with four CH-47D Chinook and six UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters; and four AH-64D Apache helicopters from 2nd Squadron, 159th Attack Reconnaissance Bn., TF Wings.

With so many aircraft integrally involved, fuel and re-arming of ammunition were critical aspects of the operation.

Soldiers from the 3rd Assault Helicopter Bn., 158th Avn. Regt., 12th CAB; from the 209th Avn. Support Bn., Task Force Lobos; and from the 2nd Bn., 25th Avn. Regt., TF Diamond Head, worked together to operate the forward arming and re-fueling point at Joint Base Balad to fill these vital support services.

The operation sought to disrupt enemy capabilities and demonstrate to the local people the continued commitment of the ISF in protecting the area and deterring enemy activity, said Maj. Joshua Higgins, operations officer, 2nd Bn., 25th Avn. Regt., TF Diamond Head.

“This air assault operation was certainly (one of our most complex operations) since we’ve been in Iraq, considering the integration of Chinook, Apache, Black Hawk, unmanned aerial vehicles and the (command and control) airframes,” said Higgins, who spearheaded the planning process, including multiple air-mission coordination briefings and a combined arms rehearsal.

“It was very successful. The individual pilots, air crews and ground personnel, Iraqi and U.S., all executed flawlessly,” he continued. “It was Iraqi-led, and I was impressed with the professionalism and capability of our Iraqi counterparts. What we witnessed was Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers operating shoulder-to-shoulder (as a team) with a common goal, executing their mission with total proficiency.”

Lt. Col. David Francis, commander, TF Diamond Head, elaborated on the success and significance of the operation.

“In aviation, we often say that ‘planning is everything,’ (but no plan survives first contact) because things can always change during the course of an operation,” Francis said. “Our level of preparation and planning for this particular operation contributed greatly to its success, and the performance of the aviators from three different aviation units within the 25th CAB was not only phenomenal, but a great demonstration of the teamwork within the Task Force Wings.”

Chief Warrant Officer James Ditto, CH-47 pilot and operations officer, Company B, 3rd Bn., 25th General Support Avn. Bn., TF Hammerhead, was one of the 25th CAB aviators. As the lead pilot for the CH-47 flight, he coordinated the Chinook mission with the other participating elements, and infiltrated the three iterations of troops’ objectives.

“Everything went very smoothly, probably more smoothly than expected given the (scale of this operation),” Ditto said. “You want troops on quickly and off quickly during an operation. We conducted cold- and hot-load training before the mission, and I was impressed with how well the ISF performed.”


Category: Deployed Forces, News

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