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N.Y. Army Guard aircrew teams with Army Reserve for training

By Spc. Andrew Valenza | New York National Guard | March 7, 2018

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Members of the New York Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation teamed up with Soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve for air assault training on a snowy morning here on Saturday.

The mission let both units practice their military skills, while also letting local community members know more about their missions.

Aircrews from the Guard’s Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation based in Latham, New York, conducted the air assault training with Reserve Soldiers from Charlie Company, 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Utica. The Reservists are part of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command.

The training allows Army Guard aviation training to support the tactical training of the civil affairs troops, while accomplishing unit training goals for multi-ship and air assault operations.

New York Army National Guard Sgt. Ryan Couture, an aircraft mechanic and crew chief during the mission, said the training with other components adds both realism and complexity for their unit training.

The training scenario for the Army Reservists called for the civil affairs Soldiers to be airlifted into a museum in a war zone so they could secure the collection, explained Major Robert Crawford, the commander of Charlie Company.

The exercise replicated transporting key civilian experts and civil affairs Soldiers into a hot spot, Crawford explained.

Civil affairs Soldiers specialize in working with local communities to help the Army accomplish its missions.

“It was awesome to work with another unit,” Couture said of the Reservists. “The guys were great, they all worked hard, and they made our jobs easier.”

The four helicopters arrived at the intended pickup zone near Cooperstown Elementary School to pick up the Reserve Soldiers and conduct training on safety and boarding procedures. With residents there to watch, the Guard Soldiers created a community outreach event on the spot to explain their mission.

During the brief afternoon on the ground, three of the aircrews conducted cold load training with the reserve unit, while the fourth crew talked with the assembled families and community members about their work in the National Guard. They let the children, ranging in age from four to 10, get up close to the aircraft.

Two brothers, Sean and Ben Braswell, were able to get inside the Black Hawk. Their grandfather had been a pilot in the Army, they said.

“It’s really cool…It’d be cool to be a pilot (when I’m older),” Sean Braswell said.

After the brief static training, the Reserve Soldiers loaded the aircraft and were off on their training mission, carrying them to a landing zone with nearly 18 inches of recent snow. 

Having prepared for the conditions, the troops safely exited the Black Hawk helicopters and formed a security perimeter. The flight of four departed with swirls of snow encircling the Reserve Soldiers as they prepared to move off the landing zone to their training objective.

Working with outside units helps sharpen the skills for the battalion staff and air mission commanders, said Lt. Col. Jason Lefton, the commander of 3-142nd Aviation. 

Crews get the benefit of the challenging multiship mission and gain the ability to adapt to work with Soldiers they haven’t worked with before, Lefton said, developing relationships and trust for future operations.

“They’re relying on us as Soldiers. There’s trust,” Lefton said. “We want to make sure they understand that our guys want to be trusted at a high level, and that they can do it