11th Theater Aviation Command

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
11th Aviation Command
11th Avn Shoulder Sleeve Insignia.png
11th Aviation Command Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
Active 1 February 1963 – present
Country United States
Allegiance Regular Army/Army Reserve
Branch Army Aviation
Type Composite Command
Role Control of all Army Reserve aviation assets.
Garrison/HQ Fort Knox, Kentucky
Motto "We Make the Difference"
Insignia
Identification
symbol
11 Avn Cmd DUI.jpg

The 11th Aviation Command (Theater) is a United States Army aviation formation consisting of a headquarters company, one aviation brigade, three separate aviation battalions, and an aviation operations battalion, as follows:[1]

If federalized, the 77th Aviation Brigade of the Arkansas National Guard may also be placed under the command and control of the 11th Theater Aviation Command.[2]

The 11th Aviation Command was activated on 16 September 2007 and incorporated the prior lineage and shoulder sleeve insignia of the 11th Aviation Group, which was last headquartered in Illesheim, Germany.[3]

World War II legacy era (1941–1961)[edit]

The 11th Aviation Command incorporates the history of the 11th Aviation Group which can be traced to the 11th Airborne Division, which served in the Pacific Theater during World War II and in the Army of Occupation in Japan after the war. The division returned to the United States in May 1949 and established its headquarters at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The Angels moved to Germany in 1956 and subsequently inactivated on 1 July 1958 when it was reflagged as the 24th Infantry Division. The 24th temporarily retained a partial Airborne capability to include the 1st Airborne Battle Group, 187th Infantry; the 1st Airborne Battle Group, 503rd Infantry; and the 11th Quartermaster Company, a parachute rigger unit. Within a year 1–187th and 1–503rd rotated to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to become part of the 82nd Airborne Division while the rigger company relocated to the 8th Infantry Division in Mainz, where a new Airborne component was being formed within the division.

Vietnam era (1962–1972)[edit]

The colors remained dormant until the requirement for air mobility (heliborne tactical movement) of infantry units was established by the Department of the Army in 1962. Secretary of the Army Cyrus R. Vance envisioned that the Army required its own organic aviation assets to meet immediate combat needs of infantry units. The XVIII Airborne Corps began experimenting with this new concept by using borrowed helicopters. By the end of the year Secretary Vance decided to form a test division to further evaluate this new concept.

On 1 February 1963, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 11th Aviation Group, was activated for testing purposes as a Regular Army element of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test). Under the leadership of Major General Charles W.G. Rich, the Test Director, and Brigadier General Harry Kinnard, the Division Commander, the group worked to formulate a unit that could move one-third of the division's infantry battalions and supporting units in one single helicopter lift. The unit operated out of Fort Benning, Georgia.

The testing process proved highly successful and on 1 July 1965 the group was reassigned to the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) when the assets of the 11th Air Assault Division and the 2nd Infantry Division were merged into a single unit. Within several months the division deployed to the Republic of Vietnam.

The mission of the 1st Cavalry in Vietnam was to "fight battles of movement, ranging swiftly to places where they are needed." Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara described the new 428 helicopter-equipped 1st Cavalry Division as "an entirely new approach to the conduct of land battle which will result in the exploitation of the principle of surprise to an unprecedented degree."

As part of the 1st Cavalry, the 11th Aviation Group controlled the 227th, 228th and 229th Aviation Battalions, whose helicopters were the lifeblood of the Army's first airmobile division.

From 1965 through 1968 the 11th Aviation Group saw combat in the I and II Corps areas of Vietnam. The Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for the Pleiku Campaign of 1965 and the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period September 1965 to November 1966. In 1968, the Group moved to Phuc Vinh in III Corps and remained there until early 1971 where the Group was awarded the Valorous Unit Award for the period 6 May 1969 through 1 February 1970.

In February 1971 the Group was assigned to the 1st Aviation Brigade and redeployed to Marble Mountain Army Airfield near Da Nang; it was officially released from the 1st Cavalry Division on 5 May 1971. In August 1972 the Group departed Marble Mountain Army Airfield and resettled at Da Nang Air Base.

Germany era (1973–1989)[edit]

The colors of the 11th Aviation Group left Vietnam in March 1973, bound for Dolan Barracks in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany, where they were used to reflag an existing aviation group. The Group's mission was to support Headquarters US Army Europe and the Seventh Army. In November 1979 the 11th Aviation Group became a major subordinate command of VII Corps.

During the period 1980–1987, while the 11th Aviation Group was at Dolan Barracks in Schwäbisch Hall in the German State of Baden-Württemberg, another unit, the 11th Aviation Battalion (later the 11th Aviation Regiment) was based in the neighboring German State of Hesse at Wiesbaden Air Base under the 12th Aviation Group and V Corps. The proximity of the unit's locations in the former West Germany may be a source of confusion, as the distinctive unit insignias of the 11th Aviation Brigade and 11th Aviation Regiment (formerly the 11th Aviation Battalion) are sometimes confused, with the insignia of the latter being mistaken as the insignia for the former. The insignia of the 11th Aviation Regiment can be seen here [1], while the insignia of the 11th Aviation Brigade can be seen as an external link here [2]. The 11th Aviation Regiment still exists and currently performs a training support role at Fort Rucker, Alabama, as the 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment, part of the 110th Aviation Brigade.

The 11th Aviation Group was reorganized and redesignated 16 October 1987 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 11th Aviation Brigade, and three months later the brigade fielded the first AH-64 attack helicopter unit in Europe, the 2d Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment. This firmly established the brigade's role as a decisive combat element in the NATO alliance. In August 1988, the 11th Aviation Brigade moved to Storck Barracks in Illesheim.

During its years in Germany, the Group had a pathfinder platoon of about a dozen personnel. The unit traced its lineage back to the 11th Airborne Division pathfinders of World War II and the post-war years, as well as the pathfinders of the 11th Aviation Group in Viet Nam. The authorization for a pathfinder platoon was dropped in the late 1980s and personnel departed as their tours were completed.

Desert Storm era (1990–1995)[edit]

At the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm, the Brigade was assigned to sector security in the former XVIII Airborne Corps area of responsibility. The front covered more than 200 kilometers. The 11th Aviation Brigade began redeployment to Germany on 22 April 1991. It was then reorganized and redesignated 17 November 1993 back to being Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 11th Aviation Group. It was at this time that the 11th began to be erroneously referred to as a regiment, rather than a group, and this error continued until the unit's inactivation in 2005; however, the U.S. Army Center of Military History confirmed that the 11th's HHC was organized as an aviation group, not a regiment.[3] The CMH clarified the matter by stating, "Although the unit is frequently referred to as the 11th Aviation Regiment, it is actually organized under the TOE for an Aviation Group and its official designation is HHC, 11th Aviation Group."[4]

Bosnia and Kosovo era (1996–1999)[edit]

In April 1996, C Troop (+), 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment deployed to Camp Hampton, Bosnia and Herzegovina in support of Operation Joint Endeavor and the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. The deployment was critical to Implementation Force's success in establishing stability in the Multi-National Division (North) sector.

In the summer of 1996, the 11th Aviation Group received a warning order to form and train an aviation task force for possible deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina. The deployment was to be as a part of the Task Force Eagle Covering Force, overseeing the withdrawal of the 1st Armored Division.

On 4 October 1996, the unit received its deployment orders, and within five days HHC, 11th Aviation Group; 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment; Companies A and B, 7th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment; 147th Maintenance Support Team; Company C, 3rd Battalion (Air Traffic Services), 58th Aviation Regiment; and the 45th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) began departing Germany en route to Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of Operation Joint Endeavor.

Assembling at Comanche Base, the 700 soldiers of Task Force 11 transferred authority with their 1st Armored Division counterparts on 4 November 1996, and immediately provided critical support to MND (North), where tensions between the Former Warring Factions were high.

On 20 December, the covering force completed its mission as a part of the Implementation Force and transitioned to operations as a part of the Stabilization Force.

On 15 May 1997, the 229th Aviation Regiment executed transfer of authority with Task Force 11 as the Multi-National Division (North) Aviation Brigade. After processing at the intermediate staging base in Taszar, Hungary, the last elements of Task Force 11 closed on their home stations on 25 May 1997.

In May 1998 11th Aviation Group deployed to Tuzla, Bosnia with HHC and 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment as part of Operation JOINT GUARD/FORGE. From May to October the Task Force performed as the Strategic Reserve for SFOR and the 1AD led Multinational Division North ensuring the continued implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords. Following transfer of authority to elements of the 1st Cavalry Division, the Group redeployed to Illesheim, Germany.

Following notification in late March 1999, the 11th Aviation Group was once again deployed on 8 April 1999 to Tirana, Albania in support of NATO Operation ALLIED FORCE in Kosovo. Over the next three months the Group remained postured for combat operations as the main effort for Task Force Hawk. TF Hawk deployed two attack helicopters squadrons of pilots, both aviation unit maintenance (AVUMs), 24 of their 48 AH-64s and a partial aviation maintenance (AVIM) unit to Albania. The remaining aircraft and AVIM(-) were left in Germany, where the AVIM(-) took control of the 24 AH-64s and readied them for possible deployment. Early on TF Hawk determined that the 11th Aviation Group, the two squadrons and the CORPS DOCC did not have enough aviation staff officers to simultaneously plan, rehearse and execute the current mission and the upcoming missions.

Following the success of the air campaign, 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment deployed forward to Camp Able Sentry, Macedonia and were the first members of the NATO alliance to enter Kosovo in the implementation of peace accords as part of Operation JOINT GUARDIAN. With the groundwork for peace and resettlement of refugees established, the Group once again redeployed to Illesheim with the final aircraft returning 4 August 1999.

Colonel Douglas MacGregor (US Army, Retired), who served as Director of Strategic Planning and Joint Operations at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe prior to and during the Kosovo War, provided an analysis and after-action summary of TF Hawk's performance. He wrote, in part, "TF Hawk, the Army helicopters that never saw action due to their acute vulnerability to Serb air defenses that annihilated anything that flew under 15,000 feet, deserves more critical attention. Other than killing Army pilots in training while in Albania, after 30 days of training TF Hawk did nothing to attack a single Serb tank or armored fighting vehicle. It never crossed into Kosovo!" He attributed success in the campaign, not to military action, but diplomatic negotiations that ended Russian support for the Serbs, adding that "Serb forces withdrew in good order and intact suffering modest losses (fewer than 14 tanks and about 500 military casualties contrary to what General Clark insisted at the time.)[5]

2003 invasion of Iraq[edit]

WARNO was issued in Aug 2002 for Apache assets to be forward deployed to Kuwait in preparation for an invasion of Iraq. The 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry deployed to Camp Doha Kuwait (later Ali Al Salem Airbase, Kuwait) to prepare for an eventual move into Iraq. 2/6 Cav flew numerous training scenarios and prepared themselves for operation in the challenging environment. In Feb 2003, 2/6 Cav moved from Ali Al Salem to Camp Udari, a forward staging base for the units preparing to move into Iraq. In March 2003, they were joined by 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry, their sister unit, who had just returned from testing their new AH64D Longbow helicopters at "Victory Strike" in Poland. After months of tedious waiting, the ground portion of the 11th Aviation Group crossed the berm in late March, drove to An Nasariyah, and another two days up the Euphrates to a location approximately 12 miles southwest of An Najaf, Iraq. This field was named Objective Rams and was the landing site for the helicopters that overflown the convoy on their three-day drive up and landed after a deep strike mission. About four hours after the convoy arrived, the famous "dust storm" moved in. After three days of "dustout" the Group got to the business of blowing things up... this went on until late April, when the Group again packed up a convoy and rolled through Baghdad north to Balad Air Base, Iraq.

A one of these U.S. air operations, executed by Apaches from the 11th Aviation Regiment became a fiasco near Karbala, on March 25. The Republican Guard T-72s, APCs, ZSU-23-4 antiaircraft systems, along with infantrymen armed with AK-47s, aware of the U.S. Army plans, surprised the 34 helicopters with a barrage of PKM, NSV, 23 mm, and perhaps 125 mm tank fire. The route of the raiders was uncovered by the Republican Guard long before they could reach their intended objective.[4][5] The large aerial strike was repulsed, and one Apache was shot down (according to Iraqi state TV, shot at by a peasant firing an AK-47, although it was likely hit by 23 mm rounds), and all the remainder damaged, some of them taken temporary out of service and at least two being written off. Only seven were still operational after the failed raid. The two crew members of the downed aircraft were captured by the Iraqis. [6]

The Group lived inside tents erected under old Hardened Aircraft Shelters (a real boon to the troops, who had suffered the Iraqi spring sun too much already). I left shortly after that (7 May 2003), but from what others told me, the Group moved into permanent buildings within a few months. The 11th Aviation Group continued its mission until Dec 2003, when it redeployed to Illesheim, Germany to reset for the next challenge. Both 2/6 and 6/6 were awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) for their actions while deployed.

Inactivation and reactivation[edit]

Prior to inactivation, the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) VI in March 2005 until March 2006. The squadron deployed with their AH-64D Longbow Apaches and formed the headquarters of Task Force Sabre at Bagram Airfield. Charlie Troop was attached to Task Force Storm in Kandahar. This was the first deployment of AH-64Ds to Afghanistan. 2–6 Cav was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) for their actions while deployed.

The 11th Aviation Group was inactivated in Germany on 9 June 2005 with a casing of the colors. At the time, it consisted of two attack helicopter battalions, service support units, and a headquarters, and was part of the V Corps.

The unit was reactivated in the United States Army Reserve as the 11th Theater Aviation Command on 16 September 2007 with a colors ceremony at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The presiding officer was Lieutenant General Jack Stultz, Commanding General, United States Army Reserve while the former Commanding General of the 11th Theater Aviation Command was Brigadier General Matthew C. Matia. In October 2009, Brig. Gen. Peter T. Quinn assumed command of the 11th Aviation Command.

Campaign participation credit[edit]

  • Vietnam:
    • Defense;
    • Counteroffensive;
    • Counteroffensive, Phase II;
    • Counteroffensive, Phase III;
    • Tet Counteroffensive;
    • Counteroffensive, Phase IV;
    • Counteroffensive, Phase V;
  • Counteroffensive, Phase VI;
    • Tet 69/Counteroffensive;
  • Summer-Fall 1969;
    • Winter-Spring 1970;
    • Sanctuary Counteroffensive;
    • Counteroffensive, Phase VII;
    • Consolidation I;
    • Consolidation II;
    • Cease-Fire
  • Southwest Asia:
    • Defense of Saudi Arabia;
    • Liberation and Defense of Kuwait;
    • Cease-Fire

Unit decorations[edit]

11th Aviation Unit Decorations
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for PLEIKU PROVINCE
  • Valorous Unit Award for FISH HOOK
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for VIETNAM 1965–1966
  • Army Superior Unit Award for TASK FORCE EAGLE 1995–1996[7]
  • Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for VIETNAM 1965–1969
  • Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for VIETNAM 1969–1970
  • Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for VIETNAM 1970–1971
  • Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for VIETNAM 1971–1972
  • Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class for VIETNAM 1969–1970

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Army Center of Military History document "Lineage and Honors H&HC 11th Aviation Group".

  1. ^ US Army Reserve 11th Aviation Command: Subordinate Commands. Retrieved 10-16-2009.
  2. ^ Army Aviation in the National Guard, by COL Karen Gattis, USAWC Class of 2009.
  3. ^ Lineage of the 11th Aviation
  4. ^ Scarborough 2003, "Alerted to the Apache's arrival by lookouts along the route, Iraqi civilians armed with AK-47s and Medina soldiers fired guns and Russian-made artillery barrage-style in crude but effective self-defense."
  5. ^ Kaplan, Fred. (April 23, 2003). "Chop the Chopper; The Army's Apache attack helicopter had a bad war". Slate.com. 
  6. ^ Scarborough 2003.
  7. ^ Award of the Army Superior Award to the 11th Aviation. Retrieved 21 October 2009

External links[edit]