Training for Afghanistan

Pilots with the Texas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, land an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter at the forward arming and refueling point at North Fort Hood, before conducting air-to-ground training scenarios. The 1st Battalion, 291st Attack Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, First Army Division West, is training the National Guard soldiers for a deployment to Afghanistan.

U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Tony Foster

Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, First Army Division West, conducted gunnery training with a Texas Army National Guard aviation unit Feb. 4 on Crittenberger Range.

“We are testing them on positive firing methods by correctly identifying targets, using the correct munitions and firing within the assigned area,” said Chief Warrant Officer-4 Brian Umstead, battalion safety officer. “We’re also making sure that the air and ground teams are in sync with attacks.”

The battalion, also known as the Punishers, in conjunction with 21st Cavalry Brigade, conducted training simulations for the AH-64 Apache pilots to make it as combat-realistic as possible.

The 166th Aviation Brigade conducts the standard pre-mobilization training for Apache helicopter units, Umstead said.

“We are also making sure that the unit adheres to and understands our range (standing operation procedures) for their training here on Fort Hood,” Umstead said.

The Punishers trained soldiers from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, an aviation unit with eight helicopters and 16 teams of soldiers from Ellington Field in Houston.

The guard battalion has been at North Fort Hood since the beginning of the year training for an upcoming nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. They conducted day and night fire missions as part of their gunnery training.

“The training has been good here on Fort Hood,” said Chief Warrant Officer-2 Charles Gougenheim, an AH-64 Apache pilot. “Division West has been very helpful since we’ve been here.”

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