USA 1st ACB 1 6401st Air Cav Brigade arrives in Europe

On Thursday 25 November 2021, the commercial ro-ro vessel ARC Endurance arrived at the port of Vlissingen (Netherlands) with on board about half of the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Killeeen AAF (TX).

Two days later the other half of the brigade arrived in the port of Alexandroupoli (Greece) on board the ARC Independence.

This will be the start of the unit's nine month deployment in support of Atlantic Resolve, funded under the European Deterrence Initiative.

In the port of Oost-Vlissingen a temporary military zone was set up at a rented commercial location to support the port operations.

The Dutch armed forces will supply Host Nation Support to the US Army Brigade with about 75 military personal, which means providing security and (aviation) support, like refuelling, fire fighters, air traffic control, helicopter parking space at airfields, etc.

After unloading all helicopters were sheltered in a warehouse. Independent from the weather conditions every helicopter will be reconfigured into flying status. A test run will be made in port.

The Combat Aviation Brigade unit shipped 39 helicopters to Vlissingen:

8x UH-60L Co A/2-227th General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB)
12x CH-47F Co B/2-227th General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB)
9x HH-60M Co C/2-227th General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB)
1x UH-60M 3-227th Assault Helicopter Battalion (AHB)
9x AH-64E 7-17th Cavalry Regiment (ARS)

From the port the helicopters will relocate and unite at Woensdrecht air base (Netherlands), before moving on to Illesheim (Germany). Illesheim 'Storck Barracks' will be the headquarters for the Combat Aviation Brigade. Some helicopters will directly go into already planned phase maintenance at Illesheim. Other will in time redeploy further into Europe.

Towards the spring some will relocate to Powidz (Poland) and Lielvārde (Latvia). The other half of the CAB (about 25x UH-60M, 3x HH-60M and 15x AH-64E) will deploy form Greece to Forward Operation Bases (FOB) at Mihail Kogălniceanu (Romania) and Stefanovikion (Greece). The CAB will participate in European exercises like Allied Spirit and Combined Resolve but can move anywhere when the political situation asks for it.

Simultaneous the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) 'Demon Brigade', 1st Infantry Brigade from Fort Riley (KS) is winding up their nine months rotation to Europe. About 58 helicopters deployed to Poland and Germany will relocate to Gilze-Rijen air base (Netherlands) before moving on to the port of Oost–Vlissingen to be loaded onto the ARC Endurance.

More details on the (re-)deployment of the US Army helicopters will be published in an upcoming article.

Photos by Marijn van der Burgt

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