6th Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat)
"Blackhorse" / "Silent Thunder"
On 16 June 2005, the 6th Cavalry Brigade was inactivated reflagged as the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade. The new unit took over responsibilities both for providing aviation support to the 2nd Infantry Division and to the Eighth US Army, replacing both the 6th Cavalry Brigade and the 17th Aviation Brigade. 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry was subsequently inactivated, later being ractivated as part of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry was reassigned to the new 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade.
The 6th Cavalry Brigade's mission was to defends Osan, Kunsan, and Suwon Airbases from TBM attack in order to preserve air combat power and, on order, transition to hostilities, deploy to wartime locations, and conduct attack helicopter operations to prevent penetrations of the FEBA system. It would also, on order, conducts overwater attacks along the flanks of CFC to prevent infiltration of the Republic of Korea and conducts aviation operations in the Corps AO to set the conditions for the destruction of North Korea's military capability.
In a wartime scenario, the 6th Cavalry Brigade was to conduct Attack Helicoper Operations as the reserve for the CINC CFC in support of the overall campaign plan. They would provide the warfighting capabilities within Area III. The 6th Cavalry Brigade was headquartered at Camp Humphreys. The 1st and 3rd Squadrons, 6th Cavalry Regiment consisted of AH-64 Attack Helicopters and were located at Camps Eagle and Humphreys respectively. The 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery (equipped with the Patriot missile) was attached to the Brigade and was to defend the skies from battle positons across the penninsula. Camp Eagle was the most modern and newest installation within the Republic of Korea during the 1990s and supported the 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry. Other units at Camp Eagle included G/52nd Aviation, 194th Maintenance Company , 607th Weather Squadron OLB Detachment 2, USAF; 520th Maintenance Company (MST), and Lockheed Martin's in country representatives.
Operational fires were distinct from fire support. They were planned "top down" to accomplish operational objectives. The Army operational-level commander was the critical link for coordination of joint support for Army operations and Army support for joint operations. The manning, training and equipping of an in-place deep operations division within G3 delivered the required capability to prosecute the Army commander's role in counterfire with C2 and battlefield visualization techniques that mesh the doctrinal deep operations pieces together. The plan used the 6th Cavalry Brigade's Apache helicopters, as well as the fire control elements at the Hardened Tactical Air Coordination Center at Osan Air Base, supporting US corps and divisions and the ROK First and Third Armies. Additionally, there was a newly capable Deep Operations Coordination Center that is responsible for situational awareness, controlling and targeting.
Apache pilots of the 6th Cavalry Brigade at Camp Humphreys near Pyongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, flew several hundred hours a year, twice as much as Apache pilots in the United States. During night training, Apache crews often flew at 225 kilometers an hour among islets off South Korea's east and west coasts, 40 meters above the water.
The 1st Cavalry Division conducted annual 'Warfighter' exercises with a simulated scenario that tested the coordination and synchronization of moving units, which included 1-6th Cavalry from Camp Eagle and 3-6th Cavalry from Camp Humphreys, and the 1st Cavalry Division and III Corps out of Fort Hood, Texas, for a 'deep attack.' The operations were conducted from the 6th Cavalry Brigade Tactical Operations Center, in communication with Fort Hood. During all situations, 6th Cavalry Brigade acted as the subordinate unit for III Corps during the "war." The Deep Operations Coordination Cell controled the movement of the 3 'attack' helicopter squadrons (those equipped with Apaches), one air assault helicopter squadron (equipped with Blackhawks), and one medium-lift helicopter battalion (equipped with Chinooks) through the Corps Battle Simulation system.
The 6th Cavalry Brigade (not to be confused with the 6th Cavalry Regiment) was first constituted on 21 April 1942 in the Army of the United States as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 6th Tank Group and activated on 23 April 1942 at Camp Bowie, Texas. The unit was reorganized and redesignated on 1 February 1944 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 6th Armored Group and inactivated on 22 October 1945 at Camp Miles Standish, Massachusetts. It was disbanded on 2 July 1952.
In the summer of 1974, the Army made the decision to implement one of the recommendations of the Howze Board, and created an air cavalry combat brigade. The 2nd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division, Commanded by Colonel Charles D. Canedy, was reflagged as the 6th Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat). The unit was officially reconstituted on 21 February 1975 in the Regular Army as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 6th Cavalry Brigade, and activated at Fort Hood, Texas. While at Hood, the Brigade was a test bed for new concepts involving the employment of attack helicopters on the modern battlefield. In the fall of 1990 2 of the Brigade's subordinate units were deployed on Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
In late 1995, the 1st and 4th Squadrons, 6th Cavalry were again deactivated, leaving only the 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry at Fort Hood. At the same time the 6th Cavalry Brigade received orders to move its flag from Fort Hood to the Republic of Korea. This move was accomplished in July of 1996. The 6th Cavalry Brigade stood up its headquarters at Camp Humphreys, Korea on 24 July 1996. To augment the Brigade, the 5th Battalion (Attack), 501st Aviation Regiment was reflagged as 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, which was assigned to the 6th Cavalry Brigade in July 1996.
In December 1996, the 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery was assigned to the 6th Cavalry Brigade. This addition to the brigade created a unique organization that provided the Commander in Chief, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea with critical force protection assets, as well as, lethal deep strike capability.
As of early 2001 there were 48 Apaches in South Korea. The third Korea-based unit of 24 craft, the 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, part of the 2nd Infantry Division's Aviation Brigade, returned in late 2001 from the United States with an upgraded version of the AH-64 helicopter. In the Korean theater, the 3 Apache battalions were dedicated to missions critical to the OPLAN: support of 2nd Infantry Division operations (1-2nd Aviation), and anti-special operations forces (anti-SOF) and deep attack operations (1-6th and 3-6th Cavalry). Although the DPRK Scud Belt was within range of Combined Forces Command (CFC) attack helicopters, it was highly unlikely that an attack helicopter battalion would be dedicated solely to Theater Missile Defense (TMD) operations due to prioritization. Given the combat power of the attack helicopter units and the criticality of their assigned missions, the likelihood that one of these essential missions was be replaced by TMD was extremely slim.
The 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery was reassigned to the 35th Air Defense Brigade, an element of Eighth US Army in December 2004. On 16 June 2005, the 6th Cavalry Brigade was inactivated an reflagged as the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade. This Multi-Functional Aviation Brigade (MFAB) was intended to serve the reduced US forces in Korea, providing aviation support to the 2nd Infantry Division as it had previously and to the rest of Eighth US Army in the place of the 6th Cavalry Brigade and the 17th Aviation Brigade. The newly consolidated aviation unit included Apache Longbow attack helicopters, UH-60 Blackhawk utility helicopters, CH-47 Chinook medium lift helicopters and manages the Eighth US Army's C-12 Huron detachment. 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry was inactivated and reactivated as part of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, while the 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry was initially assigned to the new 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
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