FORT IRWIN, Calif. — The 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd “Greywolf” Brigade Combat Team, wasn’t the only Fort Hood unit getting in some valuable training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. About a quarter of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade also made the trip.

The 1st “Attack” Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, formed a task force of the four different aircrafts flown in the air brigade, to assist Greywolf during its monthlong rotation at the training center.

“We brought every (military occupational specialty) the brigade has out here,” said Lt. Col. Phillip Cain Baker, Attack commander.

The rotation allowed the aviators to operate as they would in a deployed environment — as an asset to another unit. Baker said he had three goals for the task force: be a team, be safe and learn every day.

“They’ve definitely taken it to heart,” he said. “Especially the team work and the aspect of learning.”

Capt. Chris Sheehan, commander of Attack’s support company, agreed that teamwork is important for the task force’s success.

“When you have a mixed bag of units, it’s important to build camaraderie with those you don’t normally work with,” he said.

Part of the training involved operating in an austere environment. Instead of hardstand hangars and indoor facilities to live and work in, the task force had to set up tents and maintain the aircraft outside in the cold, windy conditions.

Once they arrived in California, maintainers spent about a week preparing the aircraft for the sandy desert conditions, said Sgt. Joshua Newbold, a crew chief in Attack’s Alpha Company.

“We do preventative maintenance,” he said. When they return to Fort Hood, he said every aircraft will need a “super bath” to prevent the sand from doing serious damage. Each day, the crew wipes down the aircraft and repaints the blades to protect them.

Upon returning to Fort Hood later this month, Baker said he plans to review the lessons learned and share them with the entire air brigade.

“We will reflect … and adjust our standard operating procedures,” he said. “It’s one of those training events (soldiers) will reflect back for the rest of their career.”

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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