US, Polish Forces execute battalion air assault during Anakonda 16

Helicopters from the Polish 1st Army Aviation Brigade, 25th Air Cavalry Brigade, and the U.S. 12th Combat Aviation Brigade “Task Force Griffin,” are staged for a battalion size air assault of over 400 Sky Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during exercise Anakonda 16, June 10, at the 21st Tactical Air Base in Swidwin, Poland. Anakonda 2016 is a Polish national exercise that seeks to train, exercise and integrate Polish national command and force structures into an allied, joint, multinational environment. (Photo Credit: Spc. Antonio Ramirez (12th Combat Aviation Brigade))

Over 35 NATO helicopters from the Polish 1st Army Aviation Brigade, 25th Air Cavalry Brigade and the U.S. 12th Combat Aviation Brigade “Task Force Griffin,” participated in a battalion size air assault of over 400 Sky Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during exercise Anakonda 16, June 10-11, at the 21st Tactical Air Base.

This multi-ship battalion size air assault enabled the Sky Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, Airborne Brigade, to move quickly to their objective and seize the initiative from the opposing force.

Air assault operations, supported by attack aviation, rapidly reposition personnel and equipment to enable the combined arms team to strike over extended distances and terrain to attack the enemy where and when it is most vulnerable, according to FM 3-40.

Task Force Griffin is currently augmented by regionally allocated forces from 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation and 127th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade.

The foundation for the battalion assault began in March of this year at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany. As part of a gated training strategy, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, conducted company level air assaults with the 173rd during their combat training center rotation.

The strategy met the necessary key training events to make the battalion air assault during Anakonda 16 possible.

“We had lift aviation from three Army Brigades and two Polish Brigades, so the planning was a bit tough,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle Rossi, a 153D Black Hawk Pilot, from Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment. “And it’s pretty amazing that everything went according to the plan.”

The attack aviation of the task force from the 25th Air Cavalry Brigades and 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 12th CAB, conducted landing zone reconnaissance, assessed the threat present in the landing area and also screened the area south of the objective to search for armored forces.

The AH-64 Apache uses the fire control radar system to detect, identify, prioritize and destroy enemy armored threats. This creates time and maneuver space for the infiltration of the ground force.

“The Polish and American attack aviation forces conducted thorough mission planning which really synchronized our forces,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cody Schoonover, an 152H AH-64 pilot and attack air mission commander, from Charlie company 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment. “This allowed us to divide and conquer the battle space.”

The 173rd Airborne Brigade (Sky Soldiers) is the U.S. Army’s Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapid forces to the United States European, Africa and Central Commands areas of responsibilities. Forward-based in Italy and Germany, the Brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build interoperability and strengthen the Alliance.

The 12th Combat Aviation Brigade trains and conducts aviation support across the full spectrum of unified land operations for United States Army Europe, European Command and our allied and NATO partners.

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Grantham Matters Gerrard-Wright, Maj-Gen (1930-2012)

Published on September 20th, 2013 |
by Grantham Matters

Maj-Gen Dick Gerrard-Wright (1930-2012)


Maj-Gen Dick Gerrard-Wright was a talented officer and natural leader who dealt with exacting postings in Kenya and Northern Ireland.

Richard Eustace John Gerrard-Wright was born on May 9 1930 at Woolsthorpe-By-Belvoir Rectory, the son of the rector and chaplain to the Duke of Rutland.

He was educated at Christ s Hospital before going to RMA Sandhurst.

Commissioned in 1949, he served with the 1st Battalion Royal Lincolnshire Regiment in the Suez Canal Zone and Germany and then in Malaya during the Communist insurgency.

He was mentioned in despatches.

After The Royal Lincolns were amalgamated with the Northamptonshire Regiment to form the 2nd East (later Royal) Anglian Regiment and, after returning to Sandhurst as an instructor, he served with this battalion in Germany.

In 1963, after passing the Staff College examination, he attended the Indian Defence Services Staff College in south India.

Gerrard-Wright then became brigade major of the 70th (East African) Brigade in Kenya.

He sat in on cabinet meetings chaired by Jomo Kenyatta and played an important part in preparing the brigade for its role as the basis for the newly independent Kenya army.

He was appointed MBE.

In 1966 he moved to Malaysia on being appointed brigade major of 28th (Commonwealth) Brigade.

Gerrard-Wright adopted a pet monkey, called Psmith, whom he promoted lance-corporal.

The creature occasionally lost its temper and one day climbed to the top of a tent, where it vented its rage on the occupants by sprinkling them with talcum powder.

Psmith was immediately reduced to the ranks.

In 1970 Gerrard-Wright took command of the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Two operational tours in Northern Ireland at a time of increasing violence established him as a first-rate battalion commander.

At the end of his tour he was appointed OBE and again mentioned in despatches.

A staff appointment at HQ I (British) Corps in Germany was followed by a return to Northern Ireland in command of 39 Infantry Brigade.

He was advanced to CBE in 1977 and attended the Canadian National Defence College, Ontario.

In 1979 Gerrard-Wright returned to HQ 1 (British) Corps as Chief of Staff.

He was promoted major-general the following year upon becoming GOC Eastern District.

After a spell at the MoD as Director TA and Cadets, in 1985 he was appointed CB on retiring from the Army.

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