Date: July 9, 2010
By Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez
Wisconsin National Guard
Mobilizing Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment briefed senior Guard leaders on their deployment preparation during a visit to North Fort Hood, Texas July 7-8.
The 147th has trained at Fort Hood for three weeks, getting acquainted with the equipment they will use and conducting missions simulating real-world scenarios similar to what they will encounter in Iraq such as personnel recovery, refueling helicopters and gunnery exercises.
"We are the aviation asset of United States Forces-Iraq South," Col. Marty Pond, battalion commander, explained during a briefing to Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin Army National Guard commander, and state Command Sgt. Maj. George Stopper.
However, weather conditions and working with different entities has made the training challenging.
"There was a lot of rain last week from the tropical storm that passed through," said Sgt. Maj. David Christianson, the battalion sergeant major. "The weather was a hindrance to flying missions. There are some new pilots that will get the stick time to bring them up to speed before leaving."
"The training is challenging, especially in trying to work with so many entities and coordinating with different units," said 1st Sgt. Robert Simonis of Company D.
Dunbar, Anderson and Stopper also held informal meetings with Soldiers at the dining facility and at different workstations to speak with Soldiers and gauge their morale. Troops were vocal and eager to spend time with the Guard's top leaders.
"I'm glad they're here," said Spc. Brett Reich, an aviation electronics specialist. "Coming out here and seeing what we're doing ... it shows that they care."
"I love these trips," said Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, the Wisconsin Army National Guard commander. "I could do them every day."
The 147th is scheduled to complete the mobilization process and head to Iraq in August, where the battalion will locate in Basrah, Taji and Tallil. Once in Iraq, the battalion will conduct security and stability aviation operations to legitimize Iraqi national government.
The 147th first deployed a portion of the battalion to Iraq in March 2003 - the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The battalion will have the unique opportunity in being in Iraq again at the transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn later this year.