TF “Whiskey”: Aerial Eyes for Ground Troops Near Syrian Border

Company C, 2-159th Attack Provides Aerial Eyes for Ground Troops Near Syrian Border

The Apache helicopter is designed to survive heavy attack and inflict massive damage. Its technical array of flight, weapons, sensor and armor systems requires a team of aviation Soldiers to keep these “flying tanks” operational.

In the far reaches of northern Iraq, that team is Company C, 2-159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Wings, 25th Infantry Division, who patrols more than 200 kilometers of open desert along the Iraqi-Syrian border from Contingency Operating Location Sykes, near Tal Afar, Iraq.

“Our mission is to support the ground maneuver units in our area of operation,” explained Capt. John Landers, AH-64D Longbow pilot and commander, Co. C, 2-159th ARB. “Basically, we assist Iraqi and U.S. ground forces with border security and reconnaissance along the Syrian and Iraq border [to eliminate] the smuggling of foreign fighters, terrorist facilitators and contraband.”

To date, Landers’ team has logged almost 3,000 flight hours and conducted more than 500 missions. They accomplish the mission not only with Co. C aircraft, pilots and air crew, but also with an attachment of maintenance Soldiers from the battalion’s aviation maintenance company.

Collectively, the group calls itself Task Force “Whiskey” after its unit call sign, a purposeful effort to unify a group of Soldiers who operates in relatively austere conditions, and with aircraft – the AH-64D Apache Longbow — that demands collective attention.

Credit: 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs,Iraq, April 2, 2010

  • The first photo shows Spc. Douglas Kauffeld (pictured exterior to aircraft), AH-64D Apache Longbow crew chief, Company C, 2-159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Wings, 25th Infantry Division, conducting a portion of his pre-flight inspection while communicating with the pilots prior to mission at Contingency Operating Location Sykes, near Tal Afar, Iraq, February 27. Each helicopter launch involves a team consisting of two pilots, the crew chief (pictured outside, nearest the aircraft) and the flight line supervisor (pictured outside, farthest from aircraft).
  • The second photo shows Spc. Douglas Kauffeld (pictured exterior to aircraft), AH-64D Apache Longbow crew chief, Company C, 2-159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Wings, 25th Infantry Division, assisting Apache pilots backing-up their AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter prior to mission at Contingency Operating Location Sykes, near Tal Afar, Iraq, February 2.
  • The third photo shows Aviation Soldiers with Company C, 2-159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Wings, 25th Infantry Division, collaborating to launch an AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter prior to mission at Contingency Operating Location Sykes, near Tal Afar, Iraq, February 27.  Again, each helicopter launch involves a team consisting of two pilots, a crew chief (pictured outside, nearest the aircraft) and a flight line supervisor (pictured outside, farthest from aircraft).
  • The fourth photo shows Chief Warrant Officer 3 John Bilton (pictured left), standardization pilot, Company C, 2-159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Wings, 25th Infantry Division, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Bruno Guzman (pictured right), maintenance test pilot, Co. C, 2-159th ARB, TF Wings, conducting pre-flight inspections of an AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter prior to mission at Contingency Operating Location Sykes, near Tal Afar, Iraq, February 27.
  • The fifth photo shows Aviation Soldiers with Company C, 2-159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Wings, 25th Infantry Division, collaborating to launch an AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter prior to mission at Contingency Operating Location Sykes, near Tal Afar, Iraq, Feb 27.  Same thing : each helicopter launch involves a team consisting of two pilots, the crew chief (pictured outside, nearest the aircraft) and the flight line supervisor (pictured outside, farthest from aircraft).

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***Posted April 2nd, 2010

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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