Delegates from the Swedish Armed Forces visited the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Oct. 31, to see how the U.S. Army manages and operates its helicopter units.
This is not the first time the 159th CAB has supported coalition forces with a tactical overview of their aviation assets in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The SwAF is the second international armed forces delegation the brigade has hosted within 40 days.
SwAF Brig. Gen. Johan Svensson, the head of procurement and training for the Swedish Air Force, said he was impressed with the size and professionalism of the 101st Airborne Division, and he appreciated the generosity with which 159th CAB shared important information and experiences on the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters.
A year ago, Company C, 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th CAB, supported a Swedish medical delegation comprised of doctors and nurses. The Swedes said they were very impressed, and asked specifically to visit the 159th CAB again this time.
“We will apply all the lessons learned from you into our role and use them when we deploy to Afghanistan,” Svensson said.
As the SwAF prepares for its deployment in support of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan assisting the Coalition Forces, they will apply this information within their newly-formed Black Hawk helicopter unit.
“As we are recruiting [crews for] a new aircraft, we are developing our helicopter fleet,” said Lt. Commander Stefan Carneros, the flight safety officer with the SwAF.
Sweden has enhanced its armed forces with the purchase of 15 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. The Black Hawks are slated to replace the Swedes’ current helicopter, the Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma.
“I’m here to learn about the lessons [the 159th CAB] learned on the Black Hawk system,” said Capt. Anders Backman, the SwAF flight safety officer for ground maintenance. “We don’t have that experience on the Black Hawk systems [yet].”
Their primary missions in theater will be troop transport and Medevac operations.
“Until now, we haven’t had a forward Medevac unit,” said Lt. Col. Robert Karjel, the program manager of the UH-60 Black Hawk program for the SwAF. “We’ve only had a tactical Medevac unit, (taking wounded) from one airport to another, but actually to make a pickup at an injury point, with ongoing combat actions, we have not had a unit with that capacity.”
During the visit, the SwAF key leaders learned more about the 159th CAB’s training, tactics, maintenance, standardization, Medevac operations, and aviation safety.
“You can read only so many books and so many manuals, and believe me, I have, but there is nothing that can compete with getting in a room with that much experience to discuss issues operator-to-operator, like we did,” Karjel said.
The SwAF key leaders agreed the time invested in this trip was definitely worthwhile.
Karjel said the 159th CAB Medevac and maintenance units they toured helped him better understand potential maintenance issues, best practices, tricks of the trade, practical knowledge of the UH-60M Black Hawks and what to expect downrange.
“If they can be equipped as well as we are in Operation Enduring Freedom, we can better support the ground forces for aeromedical evacuation,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Dvorsky, the 159th CAB’s command sergeant major.