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New unit ready to support USARAK

Soldiers from the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, push a Kiowa helicopter across the airfield on Fort Wainwright

Soldiers from the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, push a Kiowa helicopter across the airfield on Fort Wainwright during their rapid deployment training on July 24.

Story, photos by Spc. Dale Sweetnam
Fort Wainwright PAO

Lt. Col. Scott Brown, commander, 6th Squadron, 17th CavalryThe 6th Squadron, 17th Calvary Regiment, was formally welcomed to Fort Wainwright July 20 with the uncasing of the squadron’s colors.

The newest unit under Task Force 49 initially reported a few months ago from Hawaii with only 20 Soldiers.

The squadron will work closely with U.S. Army Alaska and joint forces in Alaska to incorporate air-ground integration. The squadron has grown to 122 Soldiers and nine aircraft since its arrival May 5 and is expected to swell to 380 Soldiers and 30 attack/reconnaissance helicopters over the next 15 months.

During the uncasing ceremony, Col. John Buss, Task Force 49 commander, said combined combat training between 6th Sqdn., 17th Cav., and the ground forces in Alaska will be a huge asset.

“The 6th Sqdn., 17th Cav., is in Alaska to train with U.S. Army Alaska’s brigade combat teams to prepare for the combined arms fight that is ongoing every day in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said. “The training we are conducting will save lives on the battlefield.”

The uncasing of the squadron’s colors at Fort Wainwright was originally scheduled for 2009 when the squadron returned from deployment. However, U.S. Army Alaska commanding general, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., and his staff, wanted the squadron to work alongside the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

Following the uncasing ceremony, Lt. Col. Scott Brown, 6th Sqdn., 17th Cav., commander, said the move to Alaska from Hawaii has been a smooth one.

“We couldn’t have asked for better,” Brown said. “We have been very well received by the Fairbanks and North Pole communities and the Army garrison staff. It’s been a seamless transition.”

All of the Soldiers in the squadron volunteered to make the move, and Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Mitchell, 6th Sqdn., 17th Cav., said they are happy about it.

“Every Soldier I have spoken with is excited to be here,” Mitchell said. “They love Alaska.”

The squadron hit the ground running when it arrived in Alaska and it is training around the clock. Brown said because the squadron is still building up, many of the Soldiers are working in positions above their skill level and pay grade. While the pressure is substantial, Brown said the Soldiers are performing well.

“That’s a theme throughout this squadron,” Brown said. “They embrace that challenge and they do extremely well. What they lack in experience, they make up for in energy to find out what the answer is and how to solve the problem.”

Currently, the Soldiers of 6th Sqdn., 17th Cav., are working with 4th BCT, 25th Inf., and will support the brigade at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La., over the next few weeks.

The squadron will conduct close-combat air training, convoy live-fire training and several other exercises over the next few months. It’s scheduled to deploy to the southern border of the United States in early 2007 in support of Joint Task Force North.

The squadron is forging ahead rapidly, and Brown said this can be attributed to the skill and focus of the Soldiers.

“Soldiers in this squadron are our biggest enabler,” he said. “It’s not the aircraft, it’s not the trucks or the motor pool, and it’s not our weapons systems. The Soldiers in this squadron continue to make us the organization that remains responsive to the command and the Joint Force. They get us to the fight and they sustain us in the fight.”