CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – The blades of a UH-60 Black Hawk start to swirl as Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 244th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division prepare to train 60 Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment on hot and cold loading procedures of a Black Hawk Feb. 10.
The 449th CAB provides aviation strategic partnership training with regional military partners in order to conduct multinational training events.
National Guard units from various states, including Rhode Island, Louisiana, Iowa and North Carolina make up the 449th CAB.
The 244th AHB supports this mission by facilitating training for Soldiers who haven’t been exposed to aviation assets by ensuring proper procedures are followed to mitigate risk and enforce safety.
“Our crew chiefs explain how to get in and out of the aircraft safely, how to use the restraints and how to get out of the aircraft if there is an emergency,” said Capt. James Alexander, the assistant operations officer assigned to the 244th AHB. “Any time the aircraft is running, there is some inherent danger. We try to mitigate that risk as much as possible.”
The day starts off with Soldiers receiving a brief from the flight crew on proper approach, entrance, loading and exit of the aircraft.
“It’s easier to communicate,” said Alexander. “It’s not as busy, so they can hear our instructions clearly. We can direct them to make corrections if they need to.”
Once Soldiers complete the brief, they walk through a dry run on the aircraft to familiarize them with proper procedures on how to safely enter and exit. They also receive direction on how to properly use a four-point safety harness when sitting in the aircraft.
The real challenge begins when Soldiers reach the run phase as they exercise all training procedures while the aircraft is running.
“Talking about it is great but actually rehearsing and getting your hands on the equipment, is always more paramount than anything else,” said 2nd Lt. Michael Nguyen, the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment platoon leader. “It gives the Soldier the ability to see it one time, to do it right and then pass along the information.”
After the flight crew is comfortable with the Soldiers’ familiarization, they receive a flight in the area.
“All the guys were really motivated,” said Nguyen. “They really wanted to do this. Going from a platform of tanks to helicopters is a different shift and to see the guys react to the different environment was great to see.”
To top off the training, U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment Armor Crewman Cpl. Jeffery Martin, re-enlisted upon the aircraft during their area flight.
“Everyone joined the military to jump on different platforms and experience different things,” said Nguyen. “It breaks the monotony.”
This training is beneficial because it allows flight crews to strengthen their interoperability skills while allowing Soldiers to receive hands-on training for proper aviation operations. Maintaining this readiness posture directly falls in line with the Operation Spartan Shield’s mission to deter regional aggression and react to possible threats within the Middle East.
“This is what we signed up to do,” said Alexander. “There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes for one aircraft to take off. To see all the training coming together while being done safely means a lot, not only for me, but for everyone that helps make this happen.”