101st Combat Aviation Brigade

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101st Combat Aviation Brigade
US 101st Airborne Division patch.svg
101st Airborne Division insignia
Active 1986 – present
Country United States
Allegiance United States Army
Branch Aviation
Type Combat Aviation Brigade
Size Brigade
Part of 101st Airborne Division
Garrison/HQ Fort Campbell, Kentucky
Nickname Wings of Destiny

The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade is a combat aviation brigade of the United States Army. It was first organized in July 1968 as an aviation group and stands as the most decorated aviation unit in the United States Army.[citation needed] It was redesignated an aviation brigade in 1986. It has served in almost every single military operation (combat, peacekeeping, and humanitarian) since the Vietnam War. In support of the Global War on Terror, the 101st CAB has distinguished itself as the military's premiere combat aviation unit during its two deployments to Iraq (2003 and 2005) and four deployments to Afghanistan (2002, 2007, 2010, and 2012). The brigade has flown hundreds of thousands of hours during these combat tours, transporting millions of troops around the battlefield and providing close air support/aerial reconnaissance. The 101st broke its own record for longest air assault in history during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Previously, the longest air assault was conducted in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm.[1][2]

Vietnam[edit]

On 1 July 1968, at Camp Eagle in the Republic of Vietnam, the 160th Aviation Group was constituted with elements of the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment; the 101st Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter); the 158th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter); and the 159th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter). Less than a year later, on 25 June 1969, the 160th Aviation Group was redesignated as the 101st Aviation Group.[2][3][4]

Post-Vietnam Reorganization[edit]

On 15 August 1986, the 101st Aviation Assault Group was again redesignated as the 101st Aviation Brigade.[3] The 101st Aviation Brigade was deployed to Saudi Arabia following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The 101st fired the first shots of the Persian Gulf War from AH-64 Apaches under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Richard "Dick" Cody who would later serve as the 31st Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Through the 1990s, the Brigade deployed elements to Somalia, Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Honduras to defend democracy and assist in hurricane relief operations. On 9 October 1997, 101st Aviation Brigade (largest aviation brigade in the Army at the time) split its nine battalions into two brigades, the 101st Aviation Brigade (Attack) and the 159th Aviation Brigade (Assault). Upon return from its Iraq deployment, the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade was finally restructured to its current form. It now consists of a battalion of AH-64D Apache Longbows (1st Battalion), a battalion/squadron of OH-58D Kiowa Warriors (2/17th Cavalry), an assault battalion of UH-60M Black Hawks (5th Battalion), a general support battalion of CH-47F Chinooks, UH-60A Black Hawks, and UH-60L Black Hawks (6th Battalion), and an aviation support battalion (96th ASB).[5][6][7] The 159th Aviation Brigade (Assault) underwent a similar transformation and is currently known as the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade and is also based out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The 101st Airborne Division is the only division in the military to have two aviation brigades, making it the most flexible and lethal division in the world.[2]

UH-60L from B Company ("Lancers"), 5th Battalion, on an air assault mission in Iraq

Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom[edit]

Beginning in January 2002, the brigade responded to the call to arms in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan following the attacks on 9/11. The 101st was the first conventional aviation asset deployed after 9/11. The 101st would support the 187th Infantry Regiment (3rd BCT of the 101st Airborne Division), fighting Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces.

In February 2003, the brigade was again alerted to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The brigade crossed the berm into Iraq on 21 March 2003, to launch deep attacks, as well as guard the V Corps’ western flank. The brigade facilitated the liberation of three major cities and the coalition forces’ march on Baghdad.

After the brigade’s redeployment in the spring of 2004, it transformed into an effort to create a self-sustaining combat aviation brigade. Completely transformed, the brigade once again answered the nation’s call in August 2005 and began its second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Headquartered out of COB Speicher in Tikrit, the brigade provided full-spectrum aviation support to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and its five brigade combat teams that were arrayed across 131,000 square kilometers of the Band of Brothers’ area of operation. During this deployment, the 101st innovated a unique strategy dubbed Eagle Watch, using its aircraft to conduct effective vehicle interdictions using its UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and Pathfinders.

In December 2007, the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Destiny, deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Headquartered out of Bagram Airfield, the brigade task force provided full-spectrum aviation support to CJTF-82, CJTF-101, CJSOTF and International Security Assistance Force, covering an area of responsibility the size of Texas.

Deploying to Afghanistan again, this time to Kandahar Airfield in February 2010 after having their dwell period cut short by four months, Task Force Destiny’s arrival coincided with the anticipated introduction of the "surge" of forces announced by the commander in chief three months earlier. Task Force Shadow, stationed out of Kandahar along with Brigade HQ, provided support to all of RC South but most notably the 502nd Infantry Regiment as they secured the Arghandab River Valley. The Arghandab River Valley was the site of some of the toughest and bloodiest fighting since the war began in Afghanistan. Over the course of the combat deployment, TF Shadow (A co. 6-101, B co. 6-101, B co. 5-101, C co. 6-101, A & C trp. 2-17) conducted multiple combat operations, including reconnaissance, support of troops in contact, air assaults, combat resupply operations, support of Special Operations Forces, MEDEVAC, and many training flights in expanding current aviation capacity. Task Force Destiny Soldiers assisted the Shadow aviation units by conducted refueling at operating bases across the country 24 hours a day to ensure all supported ground forces retained flexibility in their operations.

Current Role and Structure[edit]

Since the brigade's restructuring in 2004, the 101st CAB has become a self-sufficient aviation unit. It has successfully utilized the Task Force format in its 2008, 2010, and 2012 deployments to Afghanistan. In keeping with the traditions by the 101st Airborne Division of using card suits to distinguish subordinate units, the brigade is represented by the diamond (♦) on their helmets.

The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade currently consists of the following units:

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 101st CAB (Hell Cats)
  • 1st Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment (Expect No Mercy)

-HHC (Avengers)
-A co. (Spectres)
-B co. (Bearcats)
-C co. (Paladins)
-D co. (Dragonslayers)
-E co. (Executioners)

-HHC (Raiders)
-A co. (Phoenix)
-B co. (Lancers)
-C co. (Phantoms)
-D co. (Ghostriders)
-E co. (Renegades)
-F co. (Torch) (Pathfinder)

-HHC (Iron Eagles)
-A co. (Warlords)
-B co. (Pachyderms)
-C co. (Shadow Dustoff)
-D co. (Witchdoctors)
-E co. (Trailblazers)
-F co. (Sky Masters)

-HHT (Headhunters)
-A trp. (Annihilators)
-B trp. (Banshee)
-C trp. (Condors)
-D trp. (Dirty Delta)
-E trp. (Iron Horse)
-F trp. (Firehawk)

  • 96th Aviation Support Battalion (Troubleshooters)

-HSC (Warriors)
-A co. (Roadrunners)
-B co. (Big Ugly)
-C co. (CIPHER)

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

  1. ^ John Pike. "Operation Enduring Freedom – Deployments". Globalsecurity.org. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "101st Combat Aviation Brigade". Campbell.army.mil. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "101st Aviation". History.army.mil. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "2d Squadron, 17th Cavalry". History.army.mil. Archived from the original on 23 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment". History.army.mil. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "1st Battalion, 101st Aviation". History.army.mil. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "6th Battalion, 101st Aviation". History.army.mil. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 

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