Feb. 9, 2011

Aviation battalion Soldiers train on Warrior Tasks

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment began its pre-mobilization annual training Feb. 4 at Fort Pickett to focus on Army Warrior Tasks and battle drills to ensure the Soldiers are validated in their basic skills before they head to their mobilization station at Fort Hood, Texas later this month. Once in Texas, the training will shift to military occupational specialty specific skills directly related to their federal active duty mission.

 

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment provide cover and evaluate a casualty at the Fort Pickett MIlitary Operations in Urban Terrain village Feb.7. The Soldiers are conducting training for validation before deploying to Iraq in February. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

“It’s a requirement for us to be validated for deployment on these tasks so we came to Fort Pickett to complete them as quickly possible.  Our emphasis once we get to Texas will be on our aviation mission,” said Lt. Col. Neal Edmonds, battalion commander.

The Soldiers focused on Army Warrior Tasks 1-15, which focus on shooting, moving, and communicating, and battle drills 1-4 during the first several days at Fort Pickett, according to Edmonds. The punishers are proving their effectiveness in a large array of basic skills including land navigation, movement under fire, performing radio communications, visual hand signaling, evaluate casualties, first aid techniques and many other key training points essential to a potentially hostile area of operations, Edmonds said.

“That’s what we are focusing on the first few days, and then we will conduct our individual weapons qualifications,” said Edmonds. “We’ll then move back to Richmond to prepare and load our equipment for the trip to Fort Hood.  We’ll conduct our departure ceremony on the 25th and we will deploy (to Texas) on the 26th.”

While at Fort Pickett, the 224th Soldiers spent several days at the post’s Military Operations in Urban Terrain, or MOUT, village where they were able to take all of the individual tasks and battle drills they had been focusing on the previous days and incorporate them in a real-world environment and test their skills in life-like scenarios, such as casualty evacuation procedures and reacting to direct contact.

“It’s a good opportunity for the Soldiers to get hands-on training to prepare for the deployment,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Lester Kipp, the battalion command sergeant major.

 

A Soldier form the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment scans the training area for Improvised Explosive Device from the turret of his vehicle Feb. 7 while engaging in convoy security exercises at Fort Pickett. The unit wil be in Texas later this month to mobilize to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

“We’ve got a lot of pilots and crew chiefs out here that may not have done these types of tasks for a long time,” said Kipp. “Here, they’re just working on their basic Soldiering skills. For some of them it has been a while, maybe since basic training and advanced individual training, while some of our newer Soldiers just got back from Individual Entry Training and their skills are fresh. Everyone is having a great time.”

Approximately 400 Soldiers of the 224th will report to Fort Hood, to conduct pre-deployment training for approximately one to two months before deploying overseas. Once they arrive in Iraq, they will conduct aviation missions, which include troop air assault and air movement, casualty evacuation, aerial re-supply and any other requested tasking.

The battalion is organized into three flight companies with a total of 30 Black Hawk helicopters along with a maintenance company, headquarters company and forward support company. Of the 400 Soldiers mobilizing, approximately 75 are from the Maryland National Guard.
               
The mobilization orders call for an active duty period not to exceed 400 days, but the Secretary of Defense can extend tours for operational needs not to exceed 24 months or 730 days.

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