Soldiers exit a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter operated by B Company, 2-147th Assault Helicopter Battalion, during a personnel recovery exercise March 16, 2015, at Marauder Range, Kuwait. The exercise involved service members from the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, as well as U.S. Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen. (Minnesota National Guard photo by: Spc. Sebastian Nemec)
The St. Paul-based 34th Combat Aviation Brigade is an Army National Guard unit that supports the 34th Infantry Division and the state of Minnesota by providing aviation capabilities - both UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters and the C-12 Huron fixed-wing aircraft - for federal and state missions.
In April 2015 the 34th CAB welcomed home more than 220 Soldiers with Headquarters Company and the 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion, from a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Headquarters Company and 2-147 AHB were stationed at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, and conducted aviation operations and security cooperation in support of U.S. Army Central Command. Additionally, members of the 34th CAB were tasked to support Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military response against militant groups in Iraq and Syria. To view a fact sheet about the deployment, click here.
While overseeing a Task Force of 1,500 personnel and 76 airframes, the 34th CAB in Kuwait logged 9,000 flight hours operating rotary, fixed wing and unmanned aerial vehicles. In addition to flying missions, the 34th CAB conducted significant joint training with the Royal Jordanian Air Force and the Kuwait Air Force. This military partnership, unique in scope for an aviation brigade, provided an opportunity to modernize U.S. allies' platforms and tactics in order to exceed the capabilities of the opposition.
At home, the 34th CAB supported two state missions. In June 2015 the brigade supplied two Black Hawk helicopters, each equipped with 660-gallon water buckets, to help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources respond to fires across the state. In August, in response to the request of the Washington National Guard, the brigade supplied two Black Hawk helicopters to assist in aerial firefighting efforts to stem historic wildfires throughout the Western U.S.
Soldiers in the 34th CAB focused heavily on incorporating the upgraded UH-60M model Black Hawk into its force. The 34th CAB received the new aircraft in 2015 and qualified more than 40 pilots on the upgraded Black Hawk after a six-week transition course at Fort Rucker, Alabama, with the goal of having all pilots and maintainers trained by 2016.
Additionally, 40 Soldiers from both B and C Companies, 834th Aviation Support Battalion, will return from a seven-month deployment. The unit deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield to provide aviation, mechanical and communication operations for the Mississippi and Kentucky National Guard.