2 April 2012Tropic Lightning and Aloha from Kandahar. It has been about six weeks since I last sent out an email to you all, so it is high time for an update. It has been a very busy period for the TF Wings team here in Southern Afghanistan. We are developing and applying new tactics, techniques, and procedures to accomplish our mission, and settling into our steady state. Our Soldiers are accomplishing remarkable tasks every day. I am proud of our Task Forces, companies, and Soldiers. Wings of Lightning families and the community back in Hawaii are remaining Army Strong and that is equally impressive. We have significantly increased the aviation support we are providing to the Soldiers on the ground here in Kandahar Province. Our maintenance team is getting into a groove, and the UH60 Phase Team with TF Diamond Head is setting new records for completing phases; this team is a great example of what dedicated Soldiers will always accomplish. We are flying around the clock now that the winter season has passed, and the missions we execute are having a positive effect for the US military, our ISAF partners, and the Afghan National Security Forces.
Our hours and missions flown continue to increase, and our aircrews are becoming more and more proficient. This means we are performing at a higher level, and we can respond faster and more effectively to emerging missions. TF Gunfighter (Our Attack Battalion from Fort Carson) is adding great capability to the Brigade. I am most impressed with how the younger members of the Brigade are growing and developing as future leaders of battalions and brigades. They tackle challenges on the flight line, in our TOCs, the motor pools, and in the FARPs on a daily basis. In all our Task Forces, we are seeing what leadership, commitment, and training can combine to achieve. In the last six weeks, B/1-111 a National Guard CH47D company from Florida and Mississipi arrived from Kuwait to replace B/1-52, a Regular Army company from Alaska. A fantastic MEDEVAC company, primarily from New Mexico, C/1-171, is preparing to redeploy in the middle of April. This
company provided all the MEDEVAC support to the US Marines in the Southwest. Replacing them will be C/1-169, a National Guard Company made up of crews from Maryland, Georgia, and Tennessee; these new crews appear to be eager for the challenges of the MEDEVAC mission in RC(SW). We’ve also welcomed new crews for our CEASAR fixed-wing Electronic Warfare aircraft. By the way, we are now a Combined Headquarters with the addition of an Australian CH47 contingent; they seem like great guys and gals, they are mission-focused, and our team is stronger because of them. In my last email, I told you about the Ohio Air National Guard aircrews flying the C27J Spartan in support of the Soldiers on the ground here. These crews are providing a new capability for the RC, with their rapid and precise aerial delivery of supplies and personnel movement. We have been able to take advantage of this capability to develop a 24 hour process to get supplies to geographically isolated locations or to troops who need critical resupply. These crews have become so aggressive, flexible, and mission-focused that we consider them to be honorary Soldiers. It is great to have them on our team, as they move vital supplies over the last mile to troops all over the battlefield.
Our partnership with the Kandahar Air Wing (KAW) of the Afghan Air Force and their USAF mentors continues to be a rewarding experience. The KAW has accomplished three air assaults flying Afghan National Army units in support of missions in the last six weeks. We’ve been fortunate enough to help them with planning and training for the missions, and we are proud to watch the KAW aircrews becoming more proficient. TF Lightning Horse has been able to improve aerial escort and air-ground integration training. On the ground side, TF Hammerhead is providing the KAW with Flight Medic and general aviation medical operations training. TF Lobos is providing ground vehicle maintenance training, and recently began providing aviation maintenance training as well.
Although a great deal of work goes into making these training events a success, that work is worthwhile because we’re helping the KAW to grow into its rightful place among the other security forces of Afghanistan. It is great to see our 20-year-old Soldiers demonstrate with pride their
technical expertise to much older KAW counterparts, and to see the older men watch and follow the instructions. There is a mutual respect in these partnership training events, and our Soldiers are better for the opportunity. Last week, the Brigade had a great visit from an Army Aviation Legend and true Hero. COL(R) Bruce Crandall, Medal of Honor winner that was so heroic in the Battle of Ia Drang, came to visit us for a couple of days. We were fortunate that 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, currently in RC(N), was able to get COL Crandall into theater. We had a great time with him during his visit, and he set a high bar as an aviation warrior and as a real character. He told some stories, jokes, and tall tales, but throughout his remarks were the themes of commitment, courage, and love of Soldiers. As an aviator who braved murderous fire in a “Hot LZ” 22 times in one day, he embodies our motto “We Fly for the Troops.” By the way, COL Crandall is 79 years young, and he flew a UH-1 on 17 February 2012. If you have a chance to meet COL Crandall, take advantage of it.
Our families are hanging in there, staying Army Family Strong. They are a resilient and determined group of women, men, and children who have been through a lot. Our Family Support Center is getting more visitors each and every week to take advantage of the services our rear detachment can provide to our families. In the last 25th Infantry Division Volunteer Recognition Ceremony you saw the type of volunteer we are blessed to have. If you go to our Facebook page, you will see great photos of these big-hearted folks. The Walk to Afghanistan and Back is in full swing. With the Bronco Brigade returning home, the CAB has the torch, and our families are “walking” with the mission. The next few months will see the Brigade continuing to execute our mission. The temperatures are already pushing 90 degrees, so the summer promises to be a warm one. Too bad there are no Hawaii-style trade winds here! We have started our leave program, so our Soldiers are beginning to enjoy some well-deserved time with family and friends. We are going to continue to fly for the troops in some new and unique ways to ensure that we are always one step ahead of the enemy and our environment. We will stay busy, because we know that it is our responsibility to do everything we can for the Soldiers and Marines on the ground. I will close with some of the accomplishments of our great Soldiers. The winner of the 2011 Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) SGT Rodney Yano NCO of the Year Award is SGT Clifford Aughe from C/1-171. What a remarkable accomplishment from great NCO! More impressive than winning the award was that the chain of command had to convince him to leave three weeks early to accept the award at the AAAA Professional Forum, because SGT Aughe wanted to stay here with
his team until they could all leave together. Heâ€™s a great example of what an Army NCO is and should be. Several of our Staff Sergeants were selected for promotion to Sergeant First Class in the latest DA promotion board; these are leaders who are already stepping up for their platoons, sections, and battalions. SFC Snyder, the BDE S6, was selected to become a Signal Warrant Officer. 1LT Kenneth Anderson from the BDE S1 section has been a regular contributor to the Armyâ€™s S1 Net; his submissions are the top downloaded items on S1 net and are making S1s all over the Army better by sharing best practices. Lastly, our PAO NCOIC SGT Schroeder has taken photos that have been on the Army.mil website, Time Magazine online, Army Times, and on many other military and civilian websites across the world. These are just a few of the great Soldiers who make the Wings of Lightning Brigade what it is. I am truly humbled to be a part of this great Team.
Please keep our Soldiers, and all the service members serving around the world, in your prayers. The mission we are doing here is important for our future and for the future of Afghanistan. We are working hard, taking care of each other, both here and with our families in Hawaii, and you can be proud of what our Soldiers and families are accomplishing. Wings of LightningWINGS 6
25th CAB Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/25thCAB 25th CAB Webpage: http://www.25idl.army.mil/25_cab.html