Story by Spc. Marcus Floyd, Army News Service
NOWA DEBA, Poland (Aug. 10, 2015) – Soldiers with P Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, conducted an air assault training exercise, Aug. 7, at the Nowa Deba Training Area in Poland.
Throughout the mission, Soldiers with P Troop, scouted ahead to observe a predetermined target that was later assaulted by Polish soldiers from the 6th Airborne Brigade.
None of this, however, would have been possible without a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter.
“Our mission here is to be a part of the NATO assurance. We’re here as an alliance,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ashley Thomas, a helicopter pilot and aviation safety officer with 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Assault Helicopter Battalion), Task Force Brawler. “I’m sure everybody, including all of our partners in the Baltics, and all across Europe and the south as well, are assured that we’re here and we’re absolutely always here supporting interoperability among the soldiers, as well as commands.”
Operating in more than 17 countries across Europe, the Soldiers with Task Force Brawler bring a unique training platform to Atlantic Resolve.
“Helicopters bring another capability to familiarize our Soldiers with and to look at ways to increase cooperation and build interoperability on different platforms,” said Capt. Kaleb Blankenship, the commander of P Troop.
Although, focused primarily on air assault operations, the Black Hawk crew also has conducted airborne, helocast and other helicopter missions during Atlantic Resolve.
“It’s been very interesting. There are many different areas that we’ve been able to focus on with a lot of different Soldiers,” said Thomas. “I love working with the other countries.”
However, not every mission the Black Hawk crews face centers on training. Sometimes it involves just getting to know the local people. For example, Thomas and her crew participated in a static display in Latvia, and it was great to see how people respond to their presence, she said.
“The highlights are getting people around a Black Hawk. They love it, and they absolutely appreciate our appearance here,” said Thomas. “They believe that we’re here to help, and they believe we’re here to support.”
For one member of the crew, Spc. Brian Sawyer, a crew chief and flight instructor with Task Force Brawler, working with NATO allies is the primary job.
Operating as a trainer, Sawyer conducts a lot of cold-load training and coordination with the European soldiers to show them how to operate in and out of the helicopter. By working with the different soldiers, Sawyer and his crew not only expose ally partners to the helicopter’s capabilities, but reassures them of American presence.
“It’s great to be able to show them our capabilities, and it’s also really good to let them know at certain times we’re at their disposal, and if they need assistance we’re there for them,” said Sawyer. “We’re learning a lot about how they operate and they’re learning a lot about how we operate, and that helps us be a better Army.”
The training is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing multinational partnership focused on combined training and security cooperation between NATO allies. Led by the mission command element of the 4th Infantry Division, and in conjunction with European partner nations, Atlantic Resolve is intended to improve combined operational capability in a range of missions and ensure the continued peace and stability of Europe.
To read the story as it appears on the Army News Service, visit www.army.mil/article/153547.