Fort McCoy News August 09, 2013

Guard aviators, infantry, artillery team up for training

BY VAUGHN R. LARSON
Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Three Wisconsin Army National Guard battalions joined forces in late July to hone their combat skills and leverage different skill sets in a complex training scenario.

Photo 1 for Guard story
The crew of a 105 mm howitzer sling-loads their cannon to a Blackhawk
helicopter as part of a combined arms training exercise at Fort McCoy in late
July. Three Wisconsin National Guard battalions — the 1st Battalion, 147th
Aviation Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment and 1st Battalion,
120th Field Artillery — combined forces for the first such joint training event
in memory for the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade
Combat Team.
Photo by Sgt. Alexandria Hughes

The 1st Battalion, 147th Air Assault Aviation Regiment airlifted two 105 mm howitzers and a pallet of ammunition from the 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery, as well as cannon crew members, from one Fort McCoy location to another as part of an artillery raid training scenario.

The artillery raid, intended to suppress notional enemy air defenses, supported an air assault mission by Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment into a mock village to rescue a captured U.S. servicemember and detain a high-value enemy target. Nearly 120 Soldiers from the Green Bay-based unit were flown to a site adjacent to the mock village, where they conducted a raid and clearing mission.

"This is the culmination of seven or eight days of coordination and planning," said Capt. Dan Peterson, the battalion operations officer for the 2nd, 127th. "This is the first time in anyone's memory that they can remember doing this in the Wisconsin Army National Guard."

This type of mission is known as "combined arms" as it involves different dedicated skill sets, often referred to as military occupational specialties. In addition, such a mission subjects Soldiers to new requirements — preparing cannons and cargo for sling-loading, properly establishing areas for Blackhawk helicopters to land, and loading on and off a helicopter safely and quickly in a hostile environment.

Photo 2 for Guard story
Blackhawk helicopter crews from the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment
and Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment — both of the Wisconsin
Army National Guard — sling-loaded two 105 mm howitzers from the 1st
Battalion, 120th Field Artillery, and also ferried nearly 120 infantry Soldiers to
a mock village for a capture and extraction mission.
Photo by Vaughn R. Larson

But making a training mission such as this happen takes more than combat skills. Such seemingly mundane administrative tasks as submitting requests, coordinating meetings, conducting briefings and rehearsals were completed before the Blackhawk's blades first began turning.


"Quite a bit is involved in making it happen," said Capt. Lisa Hendershot, logistics officer for the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation, adding that the planning was worth the effort.

"This is actually the first time we've ever done a combined arms air assault with the 32nd Brigade and worked to support a mission like this for them."

The 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry and 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery are subordinate units of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The Madison-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation is part of the 64th Troop Command Brigade.

Hendershot said the Blackhawk pilots prefer real passengers for air assault training missions.

Photo 3 for Guard story
Cannon crew members from the
1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery
await the arrival of a Blackhawk
helicopter from the 1st Battalion,
147th Aviation Regiment to
sling-load the 105 mm howitzer
for transport. The training included
airlifting nearly 120 Soldiers from
the 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry to
a mock village for a capture and
extraction mission.

Photo by Vaughn R. Larson

"You get more real-life scenarios," she explained. "Having the troops involved and the equipment to sling-load — everybody is getting better value out of the training. The pilots love it because we're an air assault battalion — this is what we're meant to do. To actually go out and execute is great for us. The infantry guys are thrilled to be on the aircraft to load their equipment and hone those skills they don't otherwise get to use."

Staff Sgt. Daniel Stanke of Bonduel, Wis., a squad leader in Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, agreed.

"It was some of the best training I've ever had," Stanke said. "I've never done an air assault mission before, and doing this was really exhilarating."