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46th ASB conducts first FTX

46th Aviation Support Battalion

Published: 03:27PM November 20th, 2012
46th ASB conducts first FTX

1st Lt. Cain S. Claxton

Spc. Paul Wright waits for another B Co. Soldier to bring a rocket simulator to load into an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter.

Soldiers of the 46th Aviation Support Battalion conducted the unit’s first field training exercise Oct. 13 to 24 at Yakima Training Center.

More than 400 Soldiers convoyed in nearly 100 trucks over the Cascade mountains to sunny but frigid YTC to conduct assembly area, gunnery support and command post operations.

“It was an opportunity to focus on individual Soldier skills and collective battalion operations — everything from individual fighting positions to convoy live fire operations,” said Lt. Col. Mark A. Sisco, battalion commander.

To provide that opportunity just one year after the battalion’s activation, the unit’s planners spent countless hours identifying and resourcing training requirements.

“We made sure we had everything we needed for field operations,” said Spc. Shelton Amos, who works in the battalion supply section. “Anything the battalion and company commanders needed, we made sure we ordered or went out and got.”

The efforts of Soldiers in planning and executing the FTX demonstrated the drive and motivation the Bellators put into every mission, Sisco said.

“I am so impressed with the way the Bellators came together to pull this off,” Sisco said. “This was truly a team effort, and the 46th ASB team is the best there is.”

Throughout the 10-day FTX, Soldiers trained at numerous weapons ranges. The network support company ran a grenade range, while the headquarters support company conducted training to identify and defeat improvised explosive device attacks while running a crew-served weapons range. The other companies took charge of small arms weapons ranges.

The battalion also rehearsed reactions to chemical attacks and other enemy attacks.

The Bellators simultaneously providing refueling, rearming, medical and food service support to the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade during its fall gunnery that began earlier in the month.

“Not only did we have the opportunity to conduct field operations,” Sisco said, “but we got to do it while supporting the massive brigade footprint.”

During the monthlong gunnery exercise at YTC, in which 16th CAB air crews fired their helicopter weapons systems, 46th ASB Soldiers rearmed helicopters with 113,000 rounds of .50-caliber bullets, 7,000 rockets and seven Hellfire missiles, pumped 68,000 gallons of fuel into the CAB’s helicopter fleet, and served more than 6,000 meals in the field. The battalion medical aid station treated more than 200 patients.

The Bellators trained while maintaining normal day-to-day support operations to the CAB at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, like the Rapid Refuel Point at Gray Army Air Field.

“It took everybody from every section to pull this off,” said Warrant Officer Bill Durfey, who managed the rearmament mission at the ASB’s Forward Armament and Refueling Point.

“It took all the staff sections to coordinate with the other battalions,” to get the right people and the right equipment for the mission, Durfey said.

The battalion’s top enlisted Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Sullivan III, credited the success of the FTX and gunnery to the Soldiers and NCOs who adapted their skill sets and procedures to meet mission requirements in austere conditions.

“We are getting back to basic field craft that we haven’t had to use in years,” Sullivan said. “A lot of (Soldiers) have never seen this before, and have never set up a FARP, field kitchen and aid station in the field.” Sisco applauded the effort of the battalion’s NCO leadership.

“The success of the FTX directly reflects the work ethic of NCOs who trained their Soldiers,” he said.