FORT BLISS — The 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) is ready to deploy. During a ceremony Friday, each battalion cased their unit colors and said goodbye to the Fort Bliss and El Paso community, as they gear up for the next nine months in Afghanistan.
Preparing for war is certainly no easy task. Training for combat is the norm for these aviators, having taken part in at least five major training events since they activated at Fort Bliss in September 2011.
The commander of the 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Ltc. Glen Heape, said, "Everything that we do is geared towards what we do in Afghanistan. So it's important that we have realistic training so that our soldiers see every aspect before they get in country, so they are always prepared and always ready."
Additionally, training in the Borderland has many advantages.
"One important opportunity at Fort Bliss is our training is in a terrain and environment that mirrors the environment in Afghanistan completely. Our altitude starts at 4,000 feet. So, we train in extremely realistic environment," said Col. Lonnie Hibbard, Commander of the 1st AD CAB.
In addition to being at Fort Bliss, Hibbard said being a part of the 1st Armored Division has its advantages. ''The benefit of it is it provides us with a division headquarters, provides us with the oversight, it provides us the training opportunities with the other six brigades within the division at Fort Bliss," Hibbard said.
All of the training and support culminates with more than 1,200 aviators and crew ready to deploy to Afghanistan. The three task forces will begin deploying within the next few weeks. Another one of the brigade’s battalions has been deployed to Kuwait since November.