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244th Aviation Brigade (Theater)

The mission of the 244th Aviation Brigade (Theater) is to, on order, deploys to the area of responsibility and conducts theater aviation operations to support military operations of war and/or operations other than war for the Combined Forces Land Component Commander. The 244th Aviation Brigade, the only Army Reserve aviation brigade, is Headquartered at Fort Dix, New Jersey with subordinate units and facilities located in some 14 states at some 18 different locations. The Brigade consists of a mix of Active Component and Reserve (Troop Program Unit and Active Guard Reserve) soldiers, as well as Department of the Army civilian employees and contractors.

The 244th Aviation Brigade was first constituted on 16 September 1988 in the Army Reserve as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 244th Aviation Group, and activated at Glenview, Illinois. From 1993 onward, the Army Reserve aviation community worked to structure its force to remain relevant to the National Military Strategy and the wartime planning scenarios of the Army and to meet the needs of the warfighting commanders in chief. Every Army Reserve aviation unit was required for the warfight. The vast majority of the Brigade's personnel voluntarily travel long distances to attend normal weekend drills. They also attended additional training to maintain their proficiency and enhance the overall readiness of their units. It was not unusual for the Army Reserve aviators and crew members to drive 3 to 4 hours from their homes or jobs to attend drills.

The Group's location was changed on 31 March 1995 to Fort Sheridan, Illinois. It was reorganized and redesignated on 17 October 1995 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 244th Aviation Brigade. Army Reserve aviation was centered on the 244th Aviation Brigade (Theater). It was one of only 2 theater aviation brigades in the Army, the other being the active Army's 17th Aviation Brigade in Korea. The 244th Aviation Brigade functioned as the command and control element for all Army Reserve aviation. The 244th Aviation Brigade had some 2,100-2,400 soldiers and 350 full-time technicians and civilian workers. It had 16 support facilities for its 152 aircraft, predominately Chinooks and Apaches, in a dozen states. The Brigade commanded 2 CH-47D heavy lift Helicopter battalions, 2 theater aviation battalions (fixed-wing), 2 AH-64A Apache attack helicopter units and one Aviation Intermediate Maintenance (AVIM) company. The Brigade's heavy lift battalions were the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment and the 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment. The theater aviation battalions were the 6th Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment. The attack helicopter elements were the 8th Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment and the 7th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment. M Company, 158th Aviation Regiment was the Brigade's AVIM company.

The Army Reserve had 100 percent of the fixed-wing theater aviation battalions, 100 percent of all Continental United States (CONUS) based theater aviation companies, 63 percent of all fixed-wing theater aviation companies worldwide, and 50 percent of the Army's theater aviation brigades. It also had 50 percent of the theater and corps heavy helicopter battalions and 50 percent of the theater and corps heavy helicopter companies.

Army Reserve aviation units were continually in use, at home and abroad, on both training exercises and on operational deployments. These various missions, including peacekeeping, humanitarian, search and rescue, logistical resupply, troop movement, combat, ensured that Army Reserve aviation units and soldiers were ready to answer the nation's call at any time.

As of 2001, all Army Reserve aircraft, both fixed-wing and rotary-wing, exceeded the Department of the Army Standard of being 50 percent fully mission capable. Fixed-wing aircraft exceeded or met the Department of the Army goal of being 80 percent mission capable and AH-64 Apaches also met the Army mission-capable goal of 75 percent for the type. The CH-47 Chinooks were just a bit under the Army 75 percent goal.

By the end of 2001, 4 UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters were to be stationed at both the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California and at the Army Reserve Aviation Support Facility in Clearwater, Florida. These additions were to be part of the Army Aviation Transformation Plan for the Army Reserve. These first 8 of 16 helicopters, to be formed into 2 Army Reserve UH-60L Black Hawk companies, were authorized in the FY01 National Defense Authorization Act. Congress appropriated more than $78 million to procure the 8 aircraft.

These aircraft, the Army's premier utility helicopter, would reintroduce a medium-lift capability to the Army Reserve and thus put Army Reserve aviation on point in the Army Reserve's transformation. A requirement existed for 16 more Black Hawks. The activation date for the California and Florida companies at that time was September 2002. These companies would be added to the 244th Aviation Brigade. Company D, 158th Aviation in Victorville would use existing facilities at the Southern California Logistics Airport, while Company A, 158th Aviation would make use of temporary facilities adjacent to the US Coast Guard Air Station, Clearwater until a new $17.8 million Aviation Support Facility could be built at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

In February 2002, the 2 separate companies were activated. On 15 February 2002, a ceremony was held to mark the activation of Company A, 158th Aviation Regiment, with its 4 new UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in Clearwater, Florida. On 22 February 2002, a similar ceremony was held at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville to mark the activation of Company D, 158th Aviation Regiment, with its 4 new Black Hawks.

In the 2005 BRAC recommendations, the Department of Defense recommended to realign Fort Sheridan, Illinois by relocating the 244th Aviation Brigade to Fort Dix, New Jersey. Relocating the 244th Aviation Brigade to Fort Dix, coupled with the Department of the Navy recommendation to close NAS Willow Grove in Pennsylvania and relocate Company A, 2nd Battalion, 228th Aviation to Fort Dix, would consolidate Army aviation assets in one location.

The 244th Aviation Brigade headquarters subsequently moved to Fort Dix, New Jersey. The Brigade continued to operate 14 facilities in order to maintain readiness of its equipment. In addition, there were more than 300 civilian technicians at the Aviation Support Facilities, as well as unit administrators who supported daily operations. The Brigade's AVIM company at Fort Hood, Texas also provided a unique training ground for a variety of Military Occupation Specialties to support both Active and Reserve Component units. This real-time mission provided a training resource for Army Reserve soldiers and benefits their customers. As of 2005-2006, the Brigade had some 150 aircraft, though the was expected to increase as the fielding plans for the UH-60L Black Hawk came to fruition.

In 2007, the decision was made to activate a command to serve as the functional command and control element over all Army Reserve aviation units. With the activation of the 11th Aviation Command and the reorganization of Army Reserve aviation elements, the 244th Aviation Brigade was subordinated to the 11th Aviation Command. In addition, a number of the Brigade's units were also reassigned. 6-52nd Aviation, 8-229th Aviation, and 7-6th Cavalry were also reassigned directly to the 11th Aviation Command.

By the end of 2007, the 244th Aviation Brigade was still the largest Aviation Brigade in the US Army, comprised of 2 CH-47 Chinook medium lift battalions, one fixed wing theater aviation battalion with C-12 and UC-35 aircraft, 2 UH-60 Black Hawk general support companies, one AVIM company, and the Brigade's Headquarters and Headquarters Company.

On 16 June 2008, the 7th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment was inactivated and reflagged as the 1st Battalion (Attack Reconnaissance), 158th Aviation Regimentm "Texas Thunder." A ceremony recognizing the change was held on 7 September 2008. What had been A Company, 158th Aviation was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, with its organic elements concurrently constituted and activated. 1-158th Aviation was assigned directly to the 11th Aviation Command instead of the 244th Aviation Brigade. D Company, 158th Aviation was also subsequently inactivated.

On 2 August 2009, M Company, 158th Aviation Regiment was inactivated and reflagged as B Company, 90th Aviation Support Battalion, as part of the activation of the 90th Aviation Support Battalin in the 244th Aviation Brigade.

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