Deployed Forces: TF Diamond Head helps thwart IDFs

| April 9, 2010 | 0 Comments


Story and Photos by
Staff Sgt. Mike Alberts
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — Indirect fire, or IDF, refers to the firing of a weapon without a direct line-of-sight between the weapon and its target.

It’s indiscriminate and it’s deadly.

Pvt. Shelby Webster, infantryman, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment “Black Lions,” 1st Infantry Division, surveys the landscape below just prior to being inserted on to a farm near Balad, Iraq, with his squad during an aerial reaction force operation by a 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Diamond Head, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, Black Hawk helicopter, March 25.Eliminating this threat near Balad, Iraq, is a priority for aviation Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment “Task Force Diamond Head,” 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, working in conjunction with ground-force Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment “Black Lions,” 1st Infantry Division.

Balad is located in the heart of what was once considered the power-base of Saddam Hussein. According to Lt. Col. David Francis, battalion commander and UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, 2-25th Avn. Regt., U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces have historically been targeted by indirect fire in this area in the form of mortars and rockets since the early beginnings of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Task Force Diamond Head’s aerial reaction force operations are changing historical trends.

“Aerial reaction force operations are a platform we developed in response to the ground force commander’s aggressive commitment to defeat IDF originating from communities near Balad,”  Francis said.

“The purpose of the mission-set is simple: defeat IDF,” Francis added. “And, we have had a demonstrable impact in and around Balad. Since we began ARF operations, we have had record-level lows of IDF attacks.”

1st Lt. Beaux Lane is TF Diamond Head’s senior intelligence officer who conducts enemy threat analysis.

According to Lane,  the number of attacks has decreased by more than 60 percent in areas that had been receiving multiple rounds of IDF events every week.

TF Diamond Head’s ARF operations integrate aviation and ground force assets by linking TF Diamond Head’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and flight crews with infantry Soldiers. 

ARF operations provide the capability of scouting, transporting, inserting and extracting Soldiers virtually anywhere on the battlefield. 

The operations also provide the capability of staying airborne with teams of Soldiers for extended periods of time. 

It’s fluid, adaptable, unpredictable and requires highly experienced aviation crews.

“These ARF operations are the most demanding, complex and dynamic mission-set that Task Force Diamond Head currently conducts,” said Capt. Paul Hanson, commander and UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, Company C, 2-25th Avn. Regt.

“The flight crews receive extensive academic training to fully understand the unique command and control architecture, the integration of dissimilar aircraft and the de-confliction measures required to safely execute complex operations in condensed airspace,” Hanson said.

“We then integrate the ground forces that also receive academic training and participate in a variety of day and night training iterations with the flight crews, which includes everything from straightforward cold load training, where we focus on loading and unloading aircraft tactically and safely, to complex vehicle interdictions,” Hanson added.

“For those reasons, we only use the most seasoned aviators and flight crew,” Hanson continued. “Many of the pilots are our Task Force standardization, instructor and primary training pilots, most of whom have experience with aerial reaction forces from previous deployments.”

Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Roland is one of those seasoned aviators. He is a 23-year combat veteran of several deployments, the 25th CAB senior standardization instructor pilot and special staff to the brigade commander. He  has held every standardization position in an aviation brigade. 

According to Roland, the success of ARF operations is a tribute to the 25th CAB’s proactive mind-set.

“This brigade understands that we exist solely to support the ground-force commander,” Roland said. “Wherever we deploy, we do an exceptional job of evaluating what the ground-force commanders need and what problems they are currently facing. We develop a proactive mission platform to be part of their solution.

“The current ground unit who operates in and around Balad identified IDF as a problem,” Roland continued. “Based on our experience in Afghanistan and previous Iraq deployments, we knew that we had something to offer to curb the threat, and we created a tailored ARF mission-set.”

According to Roland, the success of ARF operations lies not only in its agility and adaptability, but also in its demand for a properly trained and experienced ground troops. 

TF Diamond Head has that capability in the Black Lion Soldiers. 

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Fletcher, infantryman and platoon sergeant, 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt., 1st ID, has been leading ground patrols in and around Balad for eight months. He has participated in several ARF operations, and he said he appreciated the added value of aviation assets on his counter-IDF mission.

“We conduct ground patrols on a daily basis to counteract the IDF threat” Fletcher said. “Having the aviation assets at our disposal allows us to respond and maneuver faster and interdict the enemy much quicker. 

“The helicopters from Task Force Diamond Head are a huge asset, and with them the IDF threat has been considerably reduced,” Fletcher continued. “Our goal is to eliminate IDF, and with Diamond Head, it’s working.”


Category: Deployed Forces, News

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