More than 35 NATO helicopters from the Polish 1st Army Aviation Brigade, 25th Air Cavalry Brigade and the U.S. 12th Combat Aviation Brigade “Task Force Griffin,” participated in a battalion size air assault of more than 400 Sky Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during exercise Anakonda 16, June 10-11, at the 21st Tactical Air Base.
This multi-ship battalion size air assault enabled the Sky Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, Airborne Brigade, to move quickly to their objective and seize the initiative from the opposing force.
Air assault operations, supported by attack aviation, rapidly reposition personnel and equipment to enable the combined arms team to strike over extended distances and terrain to attack the enemy where and when it is most vulnerable, according to FM 3-40.
Task Force Griffin is currently augmented by regionally allocated forces from 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation and 127th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade.
The foundation for the battalion assault began in March of this year at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany. As part of a gated training strategy, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, conducted company level air assaults with the 173rd during their combat training center rotation.
The strategy met the necessary key training events to make the battalion air assault during Anakonda 16 possible.
“We had lift aviation from three Army Brigades and two Polish Brigades, so the planning was a bit tough,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle Rossi, a 153D Black Hawk Pilot, from Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment. “And it’s pretty amazing that everything went according to the plan.”
The attack aviation of the task force from the 25th Air Cavalry Brigades and 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 12th CAB, conducted landing zone reconnaissance, assessed the threat present in the landing area and also screened the area south of the objective to search for armored forces.
The AH-64 Apache uses the fire control radar system to detect, identify, prioritize and destroy enemy armored threats. This creates time and maneuver space for the infiltration of the ground force.
“The Polish and American attack aviation forces conducted thorough mission planning which really synchronized our forces,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cody Schoonover, an 152H AH-64 pilot and attack air mission commander, from Charlie company 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment. “This allowed us to divide and conquer the battle space.”
The 173rd Airborne Brigade (Sky Soldiers) is the U.S. Army’s Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapid forces to the United States European, Africa and Central Commands areas of responsibilities. Forward-based in Italy and Germany, the Brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build interoperability and strengthen the Alliance.