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207th Aviation supports command group

June 20, 2011

By Sgt. TJ Moller

Operations in Iraq depend on generals making decisions and Soldiers executing them. Attending scheduled and unscheduled meetings, on and off base, is a part of the leadership’s decision-making process and flights are needed to support this.

The Soldiers of Company B, 207th Aviation Battalion, have the essential mission of supporting Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, commanding general, United States Forces- Iraq, Lt. Gen. Frank G. Helmick, deputy commanding general of operations, USF-I, and Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, deputy commanding general for advising and training.

The mission here is to support the generals and distinguished visitors and get them to where they need to go, said Capt. Todd Miller, commander of Co. B, 207th Avn. Bn.

There is no such thing as routine for this experienced, Alaska-based unit as the generals’ schedules are ever changing.
Each general has a dedicated flight set, comprised of aircraft that are maintained and always ready to go.

The missions are comprised of flights not more than 30 minutes, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Cormier, an aviator with Co. B., 207th Avn. Bn. With schedule changes every day, it keeps it exciting.

The crews continue to communicate with the general’s flight coordinators to keep up to date on flight requirements, said Miller. “If there is an unscheduled flight, we try to have a less than one hour recall.”

Flight operations in Iraq entail a lot more than picking up and dropping off personnel. This veteran company, known as the Arctic Cowboys, augmented in support of two maintenance sections as well as a refueling section. The unit works almost independently.

With each flight set supporting its general for 12 hours-a-day, every role is essential for a successful mission, said Cormier.

Pilots need their crew chiefs to be an extra set of eyes and man the aircraft’s weapons system, while smooth flight operations depend on aircraft maintenance and skilled flight operators.

Company B’s two-man flight operations team has the job of maintaining itineraries, generating risk assessments, and updating flight crews on weather conditions among other duties, said Sgt. Katherine L. Ross, flight operator, Co. B., 207th Avn Bn.

“We brought everything we need to be self-sufficient,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Benjamin N. Herning, maintenance officer with Co. B., 207th Avn Bn. “We rely very little on other people. That way if something breaks we’re not waiting for someone else to fix it. We can fix it ourselves and that’s probably the biggest thing we’ve got going.”

“The maintenance is where we make our money,” said Cormier. “If our aircrafts are ready to go all the time, we don’t have to worry about canceling missions.”

With nearly 4,000 flight hours this deployment and a constant demand on the Soldiers to be reactive, the unit has had a successful deployment so far without dropping any flights.

“With the mission like this, everybody becomes an expert on their specialized part of the mission, and everybody knows everybody else’s job,” said Miller. “My unit has been together for a long time and it shows in their performance and their ability to work with limited resources and get the mission done quickly.”

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