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Fort Hood Press Center
DATE: October 12, 2012 10:00:00 AM CDT

21st Cavalry begins Apache Longbow training across Central Texas

FORT HOOD, Texas -- Fort Hood aviators for the 21st Cavalry Brigade will return to the skies and roads of West Texas Nov. 8-20 to train the 1st Battalion, 104th Armed Reconnaissance Battalion of the Pennsylvania National Guard, home stationed at Johnstown, Penn.

The 104th ARB has recently been equipped with the world's most lethal attack helicopter, the AH-64D Apache Longbow.

The 21st Cav. Bde. is responsible for training all U.S. Army aviation units and those of allied countries transitioning to the Apache Longbow. The Western Training Area has long been an integral piece in the training of U.S. Army aviation units and allied air forces who are training to fight in the Global War on Terrorism.

The WTA covers an area approximately 165 by 110 miles of airspace.  This area extends from the western edge of the Fort Hood reservation west to San Angelo, Texas, and from Comanche, Texas, in the north, to Fredericksburg, Texas, in the south.

Airspace and land utilization in the WTA dates back to the mid 1980's when the brigade and training units began deploying to the WTA for extensive and realistic training.

"The support from the local communities has been outstanding, and is greatly appreciated," Col. Neil S. Hersey, brigade commander, 21st Cav. Bde., said. "Without such support of the communities and citizens residing in the 21 counties within the WTA, the 21st Cavalry would not be able to accomplish its current mission of preparing units to deploy in support of the GWOT."

The WTA becomes the maneuver area during the collective training portion of the Longbow Unit Fielding and Training Program. Each unit completing the program spends approximately 20 days just prior to graduation conducting missions throughout this entire area. They work on replicating the types of missions and distances they anticipate if deployed to combat theaters of operations.

The center of operations will be Curtis Field just north of Brady, Texas, which is approximately 100 miles west of Fort Hood. There will also be a contingent stationed at the Camp Bowie National Guard Training Center near Brownwood, Texas. 

In order to make the training as realistic as possible, coordination has been made with several of the almost 100 landowners and ranchers throughout the WTA to place opposing forces vehicles and personnel on private land to replicate enemy forces. Military and civilian vehicles will be travelling many of the roads throughout the WTA as well. Many of these vehicles, and personnel with them, will display mock weapons. There is no live ammunition used during these exercises. Blank ammunition and pyrotechnics creating noise and smoke may be used. This adds realism to the scenarios and greatly enhances the training the Apache crews receive while in the WTA.

"These supporters of the brigade mission ask nothing in return for the use of their land because they believe in our mission and are proud to be of assistance," The 21st Cav. Bde. commander said. "Without a doubt, these people are among the most patriotic US citizens you will ever meet. We could not accomplish our mission without them."

Missions will be conducted during both day and night hours. Noise from low flying helicopters is inevitable.

Hersey said he recognizes that this can inconvenience citizens living in the WTA. He has undertaken a "Fly Friendly" attitude which has been passed on to all of the helicopter pilots. Every effort will be made to reduce the possibility of noise or damage by avoiding over-flying buildings and livestock.

In the event such occurrences should happen, please contact your local law enforcement agency, city police or county sheriff. They will, in turn contact the brigade operations center.

For more information contact:
Fort Hood Public Affairs Office
(254) 286-5139
1001 761st Tank Battalion Ave
Suite W105
Fort Hood, TX 76544
[email protected]