July 14, 2009

National Guard aviation battalion begins joint exercise in Wisconsin

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT MCCOY, Wisc. — Virginia and Maryland Soldiers and Airmen  arrived at  Fort McCoy to begin exercise Global Patriot during their two-week annual training period.

  Global Patriot 2009

Soldiers and Airmen unload three UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from a C-5 at Volk Airfield in Wisconsin before unfolding and flying the rest of the way to Fort McCoy for joint exercise Global Patriot. The 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, which is comprised of units from Virginia and Maryland is conducting the Patriot exercise as part of their two-week annual training. They will be working directly with their parent unit, the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade, in preparation for possible upcoming deployments. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

The National Guard Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment with Soldiers from Virginia and Maryland, and Airmen of the 200th Weather Flight, assigned to the historic 29th Infantry Division, began arriving in Wisconsin as early as July 9 to begin preparation for the exercise.

“We are here to support an exercise called Global Patriot,” said Capt. David Aaron Loy, assistant operations officer for the battalion. “This is a joint, international exercise. It is a very large exercise that encompasses Fort McCoy, Volk Airfield and also some components down in Louisiana.”

According to Loy, the exercise is an Air Force-generated mission focusing a lot of attention on homeland defense training. While the battalion is here at Fort McCoy, it will also be focusing its attention towards wartime mission-based training with the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade during their involvement in the exercise.

“The brigade is our higher headquarters,” said Loy. “Within the brigade, they have two Apache units, us as the Blackhawks, they’ve got a MEDEVAC unit, they’ve got some Chinooks, and they’ve got an infantry component and a brigade support battalion, so it’s a very large body with a lot of moving parts.”

Loy explained how important the exercise is to the relationship between the battalion and the brigade by saying, “The reason we are training here with them is because they are who we are scheduled to go with on our next deployment.”

“This is the first time we have really worked in detail with them,” said Loy. “This is their first time working with us and our first time working with them.”

In addition to the units within the brigade and the 200th Weather Flight, the Soldiers of the battalion will be working with components of the active-duty Army, Air Force, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Canada, according to Loy. “This is a huge exercise with a lot of moving pieces and parts. It’s a major exercise.”

During the exercise, the Soldiers and Airmen will be focusing on their individual tasks, honing, and building on their specialized skills to complete the mission successfully.

“What we’re going to be focusing on during our time here is individual MOSQ (military occupational specialty qualification) training. We’re going to be conducting individual weapons qualification and crew-served qualification,” said Loy. “We’re going to be doing aviation training, door gunnery, flight training, driver training and Humvee roll-over training.”

“We’ve got a lot packed into our week and a half here on the ground,” he said.
“This is a great opportunity for us to begin working with them again,” said Lt. Col Jim Ring, battalion commander, during a welcome briefing to the Soldiers. “The things we’re doing this AT are very similar to what you’re going to do on your next deployment.”

In 2009, Patriot will again go the extra mile to maximize training for all participants, incorporating combat ops and homeland defense scenarios. To begin Patriot, two CBRNE Emergency Response Forces will conduct a Homeland Defense scenario involving a radiological event within the U.S.

The first week of the exercise will focus on unit and individual training events. The second week includes a multi-day combat scenario exercise that includes medical evaluations, combat convoy training, close air support, and time sensitive targeting. The scenario will also help the units work on tactical airlift/airdrops, joint combat search and rescue missions, helicopter air assaults, dissimilar air combat, airborne surveillance, and tactical communications integration.

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