Europe’s only Combat Aviation Brigade stands up
12th CAB is called ‘key step’ in Army’s transformation
KATTERBACH, Germany — Army transformation took to the skies Monday, as the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade stood up at Katterbach Army Airfield in Germany.
But before the colors of the 12th CAB were unfurled, the 1st Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade colors were cased in preparation for the unit’s return to the States.
The ceremony to welcome the only CAB stationed in Europe also kicked off a week of festivities — including chili cook-offs and go-karts — celebrating the beginning of a more mobile and adaptable aviation unit and the arrival of new soldiers and families. The Katterbach CAB is one of 11 worldwide that are coming into being during the Army’s transformation, according to the Army’s Web site.
Maj. Gen. Fred Robinson, commander of the 1st Armored Division — to which the 12th CAB is subordinate — said the CAB transformation is more than a change of flag. It also means a more refined unit.
“I am honored to count you as ‘Iron’ soldiers,” he said, calling the standing up of the brigade a “key step” in transformation. “This new unit will be the centerpiece of the Army.”
Aside from headquarters elements of the 1st ID’s 4th Brigade, the new 12th also is made up of various transformed units, both from the Katterbach area and elsewhere in Germany. With a force of 3,400, some of the brigade’s troops have come from Giebelstadt Army Airfield, which is in the process of closing.
The genesis of the CAB, and its more than 100 AH-64 Apaches, CH-47 Chinooks and UH-60 Black Hawks, is rooted in the needs of modern combat, the brigade’s commander, Col. Timothy Edens, said last week.
“It came down to how we actually fight,” he said.
Under the new CAB system, assault and attack units are all under one command, making aviation resources more accessible to commanders who need them.
Now, Edens said, instead of attack battalions being in one unit, and lift and support assets somewhere else, they’re all under the spacious 12th CAB tent.
Other CABs will be similarly organized, allowing for commanders to easily mix and match different pieces of one CAB with another, Edens said, a reflection of the Army’s new emphasis on flexibility and adaptability.
The brigade should be all formed and trained by sometime next year, Edens said.
Edens said that moving soldiers in, transportation and other issues have generally gone smoothly for the 12th, as far as he could tell, but difficulties always arise.
“From Colonel Edens’ view, it was smooth,” he said. “But if you grab ‘Private Edens,’ they probably had a rough go. But we worked through that.”
After reading a greeting in German to local guests, Edens said Monday that the ceremony marks the end of the 1st ID’s 4th Brigade in Germany, but a whole new aviation future is on the horizon. “Tomorrow starts today, and we are ready,” he said.