Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Jacques Vincent & Boris Hernand - Translation: Marc Arys   © sbap 2017
 
During the month November the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade from Fort Hood (Texas) will deploy to Europe within the scope of Operation Atlantic Resolve. This unit will support the armoured vehicles brigade of the 2nd Armoured Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) from the 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley (Kansas) that arrived by train some weeks ago. The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade will replace the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade of which the 76 helicopters will transit through the port of Riga before being conveyed to the USA.
The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade will have 12 Chinook, 38 Black Hawk, 15 Black Hawk providing medical care and 24 Apache totaling 89 helicopters at its disposal. These aircraft are to be deployed in Germany, Latvia, Romania and Poland after a maritime transfer and off-load at the port of Zeebrugge on October 19 and 20.
Once off-loaded, the helicopters were transferred to the airbase of Chičvres, not far from the city of Mons to be deployed to their operational locations. Some 1900 soldiers and crews will join them from November 2017 until August 2018.
The aim of Operation Atlantic Resolve is to reassure the East-European countries against an 'aggressive deemed' Russia. This unparalleled deployment was decided off by the administration of the former president of the United States Barack Obama and confirmed by his successor Donald Trump, regardless of the initial reluctances to plight in favour of art. 5 of the NATO treaty, which is about collective defence.
This year the United Stated will have deployed a supplementary brigade to Europe, bringing the number up to three Brigades on the Old Continent.
 
 
 
Operation Atlantic Resolve are ongoing efforts since 2014 in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine, mainly the War in Donbass. It is funded under the European Reassurance Initiative. All U.S. efforts in support of NATO fall under the umbrella of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The U.S. took several immediate steps to demonstrate solidarity with NATO, such as augmenting the air, ground and naval presence in the region, and enhancing previously scheduled exercises. The U.S. is taking measures to enhance NATO military plans and defense capabilities and remains committed to maintaining a persistent presence in Central Europe and Eastern Europe.
 
 First arrival in 2014 (US DOD©) USS Laboon entering the black sea (US Navy©)
 2nd Armoured Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) (US DOD©) First deployment in the Balkan area  (US DOD©)
 Airlift transport (US Air Force©) 122 FS deployed at Graf Ignatievo in Bulgaria after Frisian Flag (US Air Force©)
 

The 1st Cavalry Division ("First Team") is a combined arms division and is one of the most decorated combat divisions of the United States Army. The 1st Cavalry Division is based at Fort Hood, Texas. The unit was formed in 1921 and served during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, with the Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War and in Operation Freedom's Sentinel. As from 2017, the 1st Cavalry Division is subordinate to III Corps and is commanded by Major General John C. Thomson. The unit is unique in that it has served as Cavalry horse Division, as Infantry Division, as Air Assault Division and as Armored Division throughout its existence.

The history of combat aviation in the 1st Cavalry Division goes back to 1963, when the Army began to gather helicopters into the 11th Aviation Group, 11 th Air Assault Division (Test) at Fort Benning, Georgia, to test the airmobile concept. The 11th Aviation Group included the 227th, 228th and 229th Aviation Battalions. In 1965, the assets of the 11th AAD and the 2d Infantry Division were merged to form the 1 st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). This involved a simultaneous transfer of the swapping of the colors of the 1 st Cavalry Division, then stationed in Korea, with the 2nd Infantry Division. On August 1st, 1965, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) was sent to Vietnam. Aviators participated in fourteen campaigns and received seven decorations during its seven years of duty in Vietnam. The first Army aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War was a member of the 227 th Aviation Battalion.
Following its return from Vietnam, the 1 st Cavalry Division was reorganized as an experimental TRICAP (Triple Capability) Division with a heavy (armor-mech) brigade, an airmobile brigade and an aviation brigade. This configuration was deemed unworkable and the division was reorganized as a standard heavy division. The division's aviation element consisted of the 227 th Aviation Battalion. The colors of the 11 th Aviation Group were separated from the division after the war and assigned to Germany by reflagging an existing aviation group already stationed there.
According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, the lineage of the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1 st Cavalry Division began when it was constituted on September 1st, 1984 in the Regular Army as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and activated at Fort Hood, Texas. It was reorganized and redesigned on October 16 th, 1996 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Aviation Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. The 227 th Aviation Regiment itself appears to have been established on July 16 th, 1987.

 
 The 1st Cavalry Division during the Vietnam War (1st AirCav©) During the deployment in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1st AirCav©)
 

In late 1990, the brigade deployed overseas to Saudi Arabia, where the unit postured for combat in Operation Desert Shield. On February 25th, 1991, with the onset of Operation Desert Storm, the brigade conducted a raid as a part of the 1 st Cavalry Division's deception plan to throw Iraqi forces off guard. The units of the brigade would serve as the vanguard of the division's movement north to cut off a retreating Iraqi Republican Guard division at Basra. In late spring of 1991, the units of the brigade redeployed to Fort Hood and their home stations.
In January 1993 the brigade deployed command and control aircraft to Kuwait. With 48 hours' notice, the brigade deployed also to Somalia, where it flew over 500 hours of combat missions. In Bosnia, in 1999, the brigade deployed to Operation Joint Forge. Units flew in the Balkans in support of Stabilization Force 4. Missions performed ranged from multi-national general support and airborne command and control, to air movement operations.
With the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, the brigade deployed the 1st Battalion, 227 th Aviation to Iraq to exercise their Longbow Apaches in combat operations for the first time. There, they assisted in setting the conditions for the defeat of the Iraqi Army and the liberation of Baghdad. In the early hours of March 24 th, 2003, Apache Longbows of the 1st Cavalry Division, fought a fierce battle with units of Iraq's Republican Guard Medina Division between the cities of Karbala and Al Hilah, south of Baghdad.
During March 2004 the brigade deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom II as part of Task Force Baghdad. The brigade fought throughout the Baghdad Area of Operations and in Fallujah, An Najaf, Al Kut, Karbala, and Balad. The brigade flew over 70000 hours and was recognized with 84 awards for valor including the first Army Aviator to receive the Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star and seven Distinguished Flying Crosses.
In 2006 the brigade deployed to Taji, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08. At the end of January 2007, the brigade participated in the "Battle of An Najif", of which two Air Cav AH-64 were shot down in combat operations. One week later two more Air Cav AH-64 pilots were also shot down. The brigade was deployed to Taji, Iraq again in 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 09-11.
In June 2011 the brigade deployed to Afghanistan and returned starting in April 2012 after being replaced by 12 th Combat Aviation Brigade from Germany.
Peacetime operations: After the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, the brigade deployed 2nd Battalion, 227 th Aviation Regiment, elements of 615 th Aviation Support Battalion and the brigade command team to Louisiana to support disaster relief operations in New Orleans. Immediately upon redeployment, 2-227 AVN, 615t th ASB and the brigade command team redeployed to East Texas to assist relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Rita. Shortly after returning from the hurricane relief effort, the 2nd Battalion, 227 th Aviation Regiment and 615 th ASB were called upon to support a humanitarian aid mission in the aftermath of the October 2005 earthquake that devastated northern Pakistan.
The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade is now involved and deployed in the framework of " Operation Atlantic Resolve " between early November 2017 until August 2018.

 
  The Iraq War (1st AirCav©)  Humanitary missions after Katrina disater in New Oleans  (1st AirCav©)
 
 
Fort Hood-Killeen/Hood AAF (Texas) (KHLR)

1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment (1-227th AVN (ARB)) "First Attack"
- Attack Reconnaissance Company Alpha (A/1-227th AVN (AR)) AH-64E "Avengers"
- Attack Reconnaissance Company Bravo (B/1-227th AVN (AR)) AH-64E "Reapers"
- Attack Reconnaissance Company Charlie (C/1-227th AVN (AR)) AH-64E "Vampires

2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment (2-227th AVN (GSAB)) "Lobos"
- Command Aviation Company Alpha (A/2-227th AVN (CMD)) UH-60L "Vultures"
- Heavy Helicopter Company Bravo (B/2-227th AVN (HH)) CH-47F "Black Cats"
- Air Ambulance Company Charlie (C/2-227th AVN (AA)) HH-60M "Witch Doctors"

3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment (3-227th AVN (AHB)) "Spearhead"
- Assault Helicopter Company Alpha (A/3-227th AVN (ASLT)) UH-60M "Werewolves"
- Assault Helicopter Company Bravo (B/3-227th AVN (ASLT)) UH-60M "Jokers"
- Assault Helicopter Company Charlie (C/3-227th AVN (ASLT)) UH-60M "Ghostriders"

7th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment (7-17th CAV (ARS)) "Pale Horse"
- Attack Reconnaissance Troop Alpha (A/7-17th CAV (AR)) AH-64E "Shadow"
- Attack Reconnaissance Troop Bravo (B/7-17th CAV (AR)) AH-64E "Black Jack"
- Attack Reconnaissance Troop Charlie (C/7-17th CAV (AR)) AH-64E "Crazy Horse"

 
 
1 Air Cav Brigade Belgium transit (Zeebrugge & Chičvres airbase)
 
 First arrival in Belgium via Zeebrugge Harbor  (1st AirCav©) (1st AirCav©)
 Arrival in Chičvres area (Boris Hernand©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Boris Hernand©) (Boris Hernand©)
 (Boris Hernand©) (Boris Hernand©)
 (Boris Hernand©) (Boris Hernand©)
 (Boris Hernand©) (Boris Hernand©)
 (Boris Hernand©) (Boris Hernand©)
 (Boris Hernand©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 
 Boeing AH-64E Apache Longbow
(Boris Hernand©)
 
 Boeing CH-47F Chinook
(Boris Hernand©)
 
 Sikorsky UH-60L Black Hawk & Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk
(Boris Hernand©)
 
 Sikorsky HH-60M Black Hawk (medevac)
(Boris Hernand©)
 
 October 24th Press Point (Jacques Vincent©)

 (Jacques Vincent©) Some speeches... (Jacques Vincent©)

 (Jacques Vincent©) The boss of the detachment  (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)

 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©)  (Jacques Vincent©)

 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 (Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
 The first line... (Jacques Vincent©)
 ...the second line... (Jacques Vincent©)
 ...and the third line.  89 Helicopters at Chičvres ready for deployment  (Jacques Vincent©)
 

SBAP would like to thanks warmly all the crews of the 1st Air Cav, the Chičvres airbase authorities and mostly Mrs Marie-Lise Baneton, Public Affairs Officer (U.S. Army Garrison Benelux), for the opportunities and facilities granted during the press point held on October 24th, 2017. This appreciate support gave us the possibility to present this unusual event in Belgium.

 

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