By COL John M. Cyrulik and CPT John M. Commerford: The 1st Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB, 1ID) recently completed a significant milestone in ARI by modernizing the CAB’s Heavy Attack Reconnaissance Squadron (H-ARS). The 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment (1-6 H-ARS) at Fort Riley, Kansas is the first active component Army unit to transform its fleet of OH-58D Kiowa Warrior aircraft to the AH-64D Apache from the Army National Guard (ARNG).
LTC Travis M. Habhab, commander, Gunfighters, 1-1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, arrives at Marshall Army Airfield, Oct. 15 at Fort Riley, Kansas. The flight marks the arrival of the first of 24 AH-64D Apache Long Bow helicopters the aviation brigade gained from the Army National Guard as part of the U.S. Army Aviation Restructuring Initiative (ARI).
The most important factor to CAB, 1ID’s speed and effectiveness during the transfer process was the leveraging of new relationships developed as part of the ARI within the Army Total Force framework. Teamwork within the ARNG and the Army Aviation enterprise at large engendered the positive spirit and attitude which enabled the transfer of 24 AH-64D and all associated equipment from four different states within three weeks. In particular, detailed planning and coordination between the COMPO 1 and COMPO 2 components led to the successful conduct of the transfer process and preparedness to preserve developed relationships in the future.
Preparation for the transfer of Apaches from the ARNG to CAB, 1ID began as the first Kiowa Warriors were readied for divestiture. Many relationships were developed during this time from Forces Command (FORSCOM) to the ARNG specific units of Arizona, Missouri, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. The development of these relationships as part of the greater Army Total Force concept paid dividends during the conduct of the transfers. Internally, CAB, 1ID conducted mission analysis of the problem set with regard to personnel, equipment, facilities, and training.
In the personnel line of operation, CAB, 1ID determined that there were not enough organic Apache maintenance test pilots (MTPs) to conduct the transfer process and maintain readiness in 1-1 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB). Receiving word of this shortfall, III Corps and FORSCOM provided the additional MTP support required for the transfer process.
Maintenance continues in the Missouri Army National Guard Aviation Support Facility 1 hangar as an AH-64D prepares to depart Whiteman Air Force Base, MO for Fort Riley, KS. Teamwork within the ARNG and the Army Aviation enterprise at large enabled the transfer of 24 AH-64Ds and all associated equipment from four different states within three weeks.
In addition to the transfer of aircraft and associated equipment, the equipment line of operation identified the need for Apache pilot Aviation Life Support Equipment – specifically Integrated Helmet and Display Sight System (IHADSS) helmets. The ARNG and FORSCOM aided in the procurement of the helmets necessary to begin training the new 1-6 H-ARS aviators.
Within the facilities line of operation, CAB, 1ID considered the airfield layout and the simulations plan for the new H-ARS. CAB, 1ID made preparations for the addition of 24 Apaches into the severe weather plan and hangars that were originally designed for an OH-58D squadron. CAB, 1ID also incorporated an additional Longbow Crew Trainer to the aviation simulations complex with the capacity to link in the RQ-7B Shadow Universal Mission Simulator (UMS) once it is fielded during the Shadow New Equipment Fielding (NEF) in 2nd and 3rd Quarter FY16. As the H-ARS integrates the Shadow into Manned-Unmanned Team (MUM-T) training, simulations will be a vital asset to practice tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).
The training line of operation focused on how to leverage the other lines of operation and 1-1 ARB for a rapid start to mission essential task proficiency. 1-1 ARB progressed a senior cohort of 1-6 H-ARS instructor pilots prior to the aircraft transfers to set the H-ARS well on its way to self-sufficiency in training so as not to impair ongoing aviation requirements within the 1st Inf. Div.
The location of the transfers was determined to be Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB) in Missouri (about 1.5 hours from Fort Riley, KS), and as such utility aircraft from CAB, 1ID provided lift support for personnel and equipment. At the close of the preparation phase of the transfer operation, CAB, 1ID received direct support from FORSCOM G-4 which clarified the final actions required for the official transfer directives readying the cavalry squadron to complete the aircraft and equipment transfers with our COMPO 2 partners.
Given the deliberate planning and coordination from the ARNG and CAB, 1ID, the actual conduct of the transfers was only slowed by the usual weather phenomena expected during the early fall in the Midwest. CAB, 1ID sent a team of MTPs and technical inspectors to complete test flights as Troop Commanders signed for aircraft and equipment. Project managers from the Apache office helped Troop Commanders unfamiliar with the Peculiar Ground Support Equipment (PGSE) and other aviation parts in Johnstown, PA complete transfers in a timely manner. The ARNG’s outstanding maintenance and equipment layout standards led to a quick and efficient transfer process.
MTP support from III Corps utilized at Whiteman AFB and Fort Riley during the transfers allowed for undiminished attack Aviation support to the 1st Inf. Div. The proximity of the aircraft transfer location to Fort Riley enabled easy transportation of personnel and procurement of parts as required. Future transfer locations should be chosen based on proximity to maintenance hubs. CAB, 1ID handled mission command with forward and rear elements. CAB, 1ID sent the Brigade Aviation Maintenance Officer (BAMO) forward to Whiteman Air Force Base while CAB, 1ID current operations maintained situational awareness at Fort Riley.
CAB, 1ID is on the way to establishing a H-ARS on Fort Riley, and the capabilities of the MUM-T in attack and reconnaissance missions will bring a new dimension to the CAB’s capabilities. By establishing a firm understanding of the problem set during mission analysis and planning, CAB, 1ID with the help with the ARNG, III Corps, and FORSCOM conducted the first Apache transfers from the ARNG to the active component. Teamwork as part of the greater Army Total Force was the single most important factor in the success of CAB, 1ID during the transfer process. At the conclusion of the transfer process with the ARNG, CAB, 1ID completed the transfer of 24 AH-64D Apaches and equipment in less than three weeks and built lasting partnerships within the ARNG. As the cavalry squadron develops its own abilities as a new H-ARS, CAB, 1ID will extend its knowledge of utility helicopter operations to former ARNG attack battalions. CAB, 1ID seeks to repay our professional teammates from the ARBs in Arizona, Missouri, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania with guidance and instruction as needed during their transformation to utility operations as the Army Total Force completes ARI.
COL John Cyrulik is the commander of the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, KS; and CPT John Commerford is an assistant S3 and the brigade lead planner for the Aviation Restructuring Initiative.