NEWS | Dec. 16, 2010

Joint Task Force-Bravo enhances counter-drug capabilities

By Capt. John T. Stamm Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

The 1-228th Aviation Regiment and other supporting elements from Joint Task Force-Bravo deployed to Puerto Castilla, Honduras, Dec. 5-11, for a training mission in support of counter-drug operations.

JTF-Bravo coordinated with American and Honduran special forces who served as a simulated law enforcement team, boosting the realism of the training. At the same time, this provided an opportunity to familiarize Honduran forces with U.S. aircraft operations and provided them with a vehicle to meet their own training objectives.

"We were able to exercise a lot of different components within this training event to include crew-building, command and control, and FARP (Forward Air Refueling Point) operations," said Maj. Edward Meyers, the 1-228th operations officer. "And it's always a bonus to be able to train with our host nation forces."

The primary objective of the exercise was to build depth in the JTF-Bravo counter-drug aircrews and expand the 1-228th Aviation Regiment's existing capabilities. Junior pilots were exposed to the tactics and procedures associated with counter-drug operations to enhance their aviation proficiency in the demanding flight conditions associated with Honduras.

A second objective was to exercise the aviation battalion's command and control capabilities. The deployed element focused on operating a tactical operations center in a remote location with limited resources, and was able to utilize the communications equipment associated with establishing and maintaining a deployed TOC.

This training operation also allowed the 1-228th to establish a 9,000-gallon FARP for future refueling operations. Crews tested and certified the new system, replacing the previous 5,000-gallon capacity unit.

"Because of this addition, the operational capacity almost doubled what was available, resulting in less reliance on resupply and greater operational flexibility," said Major Meyers. "Being able to expand (JTF-Bravo's) operation reach is vital to accomplishing not only counter-drug missions, but also disaster relief and humanitarian assistance missions across both Honduras and the rest of Central America."

The exercise was hailed as a success, allowing for JTF-Bravo assets to engage with the local population and enhance the ability to operate throughout Honduras. Finally, the aircrews were able to operate in some of the more remote areas of Honduras.

"The training provided a mechanism for rehearsing ground tactical communications, forward deploying ground and air interdiction assets, establishing a new forward arming and refueling point, and training the Honduran 15th Special Forces Battalion on air mobile operations," said a company commander with the Area Operations Group here. "This training event had, and will continue to have, international effects."