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1st CAB and Operations in the COVID-19 Environment

Fort Riley, KS – When the nation faces a global scale pandemic, preventing the spread of a virus and protecting the health of citizens becomes a top priority. The 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division is no different, yet like the rest of America’s armed forces, the Brigade must remain ready to ensure the defense of the United States of America.

1ID Aviators Prevent, Protect and Preserve / Photo By Sgt. Patrick Jubrey

As American citizens are practicing social distancing and preventative health measures, the Combat Aviation Brigade finds new ways to fly and train while adhering to these important standards.

Col. Bryan Chivers, commander of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, faces a difficult challenge. As the commander of approximately 3,000 soldiers and 113 airframes, Chivers said, “I’m charged with leadership, the welfare and morale of that organization and their families, and the overall readiness of the organization.” That responsibility requires the balance of maintaining combat readiness while also protecting the force. “Our operational approach to dealing with COVID is preventing the spread, and thereby protecting our service members as well as the community while also preserving our readiness.”

The Army aviators are finding ways to train and maintain readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home orders. “From an aviator perspective, you don’t have simulators at home. You don’t have helicopters that are parked out back. You have to come in and be able to pre-flight, run up, and execute the mission. Just to get one aircraft off the ground takes a whole host of people to enable that one training mission,” said Chivers. “Just like our firefighters, nurses, and police, we are first responders and when the nation calls, we have to be ready.” He added, “We put in precautionary measures. These include washing your hands and wearing a facemask in close proximity. We are also mandating that people must have their temperatures checked before entering our flight operations buildings. Additionally, we are cleaning out the cockpits and any type of mission equipment that we are using prior to turning it over to the next crew.”

For those mission essential personnel coming into work, the precautions are helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In the midst of the global pandemic, the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade continues to fulfill its mission while still preventing the spread of the virus. “When the nation calls, we absolutely have to be ready to protect the larger American population. We know that our best weapon system is our people. We have defined who our mission essential personnel are and are preserving the readiness to do what the nation is going to ask us, while simultaneously preventing and protecting our families and our communities,” said Chivers. –By Capt. Matthew St Clair