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NEWS | July 3, 2023

Aviation Brigade Demonstrates Combat Readiness and Integration During Warfighter 23-05 Exercise

By 1st Lt. Kaitlin Baudendistel, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

The combat readiness and operational capabilities of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, supported by the 751st Troop Command, were put to the test during the Warfighter 23-05 exercise held here from May 27-June 13.

Acting as a combat aviation brigade at the corps level, the 63rd TAB successfully executed large-scale combat operations, showcasing their proficiency and tactical expertise in a realistic simulated battlefield environment. The exercise aimed to identify strengths and areas for improvement, enabling the units to fine-tune their tactics and ensure seamless integration with ground forces.

One of the significant challenges faced by the 63rd TAB was their transition from a theater aviation brigade to a combat aviation brigade, incorporating attack assets into their force structure. This new concept was welcomed by the brigade, as it presented an opportunity for growth and development.

Col. Mike Armstrong, the commander of the 63rd TAB, acknowledged the challenges and the progress made by the unit.

“As an aviation brigade, we don’t have attack assets within our force structure. Employing and implementing attack assets is a new concept for our headquarters and lower command,” said Armstrong. “From CPX (Command Post Exercise) one, two, and three to where we are now, we have grown leaps and bounds. We’ve been able to fully integrate all our systems which we would use in a secret environment and learn how those systems feed information to the staff to analyze and bring to me as the brigade commander to understand my risk and authority for how to implement our assets.”

Armstrong commended every Soldier that participated, both at the battalion and brigade level.

“This has been a great experience. The morale and desire to learn has been tremendous. Everyone has been open to learning new things and new positions, and how a combat aviation brigade fits into all the warfighting functions and how we implement that overall.”

The 751st Troop Command, led by Lt. Col. Stephen Martin, played a crucial role as the lower command element providing simulated battalions for the combat aviation brigade. The 751st received missions, executed them on the simulated network, and provided valuable feedback to the brigade staff sections.

“I was fortunate to get to work with a phenomenal team. Even with a regularly changing schedule and a 24-hour requirement, their motivation outpaced all the other lower command elements we worked alongside,” said Martin. We took pride in getting the first simulated enemy engagement and the last with our Grey Eagle Unit.”

Throughout the exercise, the 63rd TAB received visits from senior leaders, including Deputy Adjutant General Brian Wertzler, Col. Timothy Starke, KYARNG director of operations, State Command Sergeant Major Jesse Withers, Chief Command Warrant Officer Ricky Skelton, and Brigadier Richard Bell, deputy commanding general of the 1st Armored Division.

These leaders observed the brigade's operations in the field, received briefings on the ongoing activities, provided encouragement and recognition for the unit's achievements, and enjoyed lunch at “The Watering Hole”, which was led by 1st Sgt. Mudd of HHC.

Starke, impressed by the capabilities demonstrated by the TAB, emphasized the significance of the National Guard's opportunity to work with a Corps. The integration of the 63rd TAB from the highest level down to the junior enlisted was commendable and highlighted the brigade's commitment to excellence.

The Warfighter 23-05 exercise served as a testament to the TAB's combat readiness and their ability to adapt to new challenges. The successful execution of large-scale combat operations and the seamless integration with ground forces showcased their proficiency, dedication, and potential to contribute effectively to future missions.

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