FOB Warrior trains teams for quick-response remote strikes
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Iraq — Lt. Col. Jim Barker has five good reasons to call for a quick-response team to catch insurgents in remote areas around Forward Operating Base Warrior, and they all got away about a month ago.
The commander of the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade hadn’t been in Kirkuk long last month when two of his Kiowa attack helicopters cornered a group of men placing an improvised bomb on a roadside a long way from the American base.
The nimble gunships had the men subdued next to their vehicle.
“But there was no way that the ground guys could get down there in a timely manner,” Barker said.
Eventually, with no sign of anyone on the ground coming to arrest them, the suspects got back into their truck and drove off.
The incident, Barker said, crystallized FOB Warrior’s need for a response package that combines infantry soldiers and airlift capabilities.
This week, pilots from the 2-6 Cavalry and soldiers from the elements of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team trained to be part of that team, called a “Lightning Strike package” by Barker.
The premise is simple: When a call comes in about a situation that requires soldiers in a remote location in a short period of time, the Cavalry will spin up a couple of Black Hawk helicopters, pick up the infantry and fly out to the site, then remain in the area to extract the troops when needed.
In a case like the one last month, soldiers could have flown to the truck, jumped out and detained the men until help arrived by convoy, or simply put the suspects in the helicopters and flown them away to be questioned.
The premise isn’t exactly new, but it’s an element the recently arrived Hawaii-based troops hadn’t added to their arsenal, Barker said.
Indeed, the pilots and infantry units operating out of FOB Warrior have trained together on similar tactics before, said Capt. Robert Bryant, a Black Hawk pilot and commander of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment.
In recent days, much of the training has been with elements of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment working out of FOB McHenry, Bryant said, and has included a lot of rehearsal of basic cooperative tactics.
One of the most important aspects, he said, is communication. In a Lightning Strike mission, soldiers are isolated on the ground, with their only link to either fire support or extraction dependent on the communication with the helicopters above.
“That is critical for everything we do out there,” Bryant said. “This is what we eat, sleep and breathe. I’m confident in our abilities.”