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3rd CAB "Marne Air" Operation Atlantic Resolve (Oct 2019 - Jul 2020)
 
Latest update: November 2019
 
U.S. Army 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade "Marne Air" (3rd CAB) 3rd Infantry Division (3rd ID) was tasked with the fifth U.S. Army Operation Atlantic Resolve (OAR) rotation. The deployment of 3rd CAB was announced by the USAR in August 2019.

OAR deployment which last nine months started in 2015 and is comprised of Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) deploying with tanks, tracked and wheeled vehicles and a Combat Aviation Brigade. Both are shipped from the United States to ports in Europe (Belgium, Germany, Greece and Netherlands) and from there to their operational bases. In October 2019 the 3rd CAB arrived in Europe and saw their colleagues from the 1st CAB, 1st Infantry division (Marshall Army Field, Fort Riley, Kansas) return home. The transfer of authority between both CAB’s took place in Illesheim on November 1.
 
3rd CAB deployment
 
The official announcement of the upcoming deployment was made by the U.S. Army in August 2019. By then the brigade was already in their final preparations.

3rd CAB operations support officer Major James Seale was one of four officers present at the port of Zeebrugge to answer questions during the media event. “While the official deployment notification by the US Army is made two months in advance the CAB received its deployments orders more than a year in advance. The brigade then focused on getting its helicopters ready as well as schedule several training events. 3rd CAB supported six rotations at a Combat Training Center (CTC), National Training Center (NTC) and Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) deploying its assets to various locations in the USA supporting various divisions throughout the US Army. On top of these a division level exercise to support the warfighters was held. The deploying brigades come together to conduct a joint rock drill focusing over the incoming deployment operation and future operations going forward. Finally, two and half months prior to coming out here we executed a brigade level warfighting exercise."

In preparation of their deployment Major Seale and colleagues travelled to Europe visiting their colleague CAB’s during the earlier rotations. “4th CAB (stationed at Butts Airfield, Colorado) was the first to train with a number of their Apaches in Greece.” During the 1 – 1,5 month they were there Major Seale got the change to witness how 4th CAB and the Greeks interacted and trained together. Another reconnaissance mission was conducted visiting the 1st CAB in the period they rotated in and 4th CAB rotated out of the European theatre. “We had a total of two CAB’s talking to. Taking best practices of how they came in and how they left. We are constantly working to other CAB’s with what worked best for them and what didn’t work."

Helicopters are based depending on the mission set during the OAR rotation. 3rd CAB deployed to Europe with 80 helicopters and more than 2.000 wheeled vehicles and other equipment.
U.S. company ARC (American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier) ship Endurance arrived at Zeebrugge late in the evening of October 14. In Belgium 37 helicopters were offloaded and parked on the quay. Personnel assigned to the 602nd Aviation Support Battalion started their work on the helicopters getting them ready for the test flight. These were conducted by 3rd CAB test pilots. After the helicopters were certified for flight operations they were flown to Chièvres Air Base by the companies pilots. Chièvres AB served as a staging base for previous U.S. Army aviation rotations on their way to or from Europe. From here the helicopters departed to their U.S. Army Europe bases Illesheim and Ansbach in Germany. ARC Endurance than left to the port of Volos, Greece. Here the remainder of 3rd CAB's helicopters, vehicles and equipment was offloaded. They continued to their bases in Greece and Romania.

Helicopters Number
   
CH-47F 10
UH-60L, UH-60M, HH-60M 50
AH-64D 20
Total 80
 
Chinook (CH-47F) Blackhawk (UH-60L/M/HH-60M) Apache (AH-64D)
Chinook awaiting its rotors to be fitted (during the transport stored inside). The Blackhawks have their rotor blades folded during the transport. One of the "Longbows" also with its rotors blades folded.
 
3rd CAB in Europe
 
During its nine-month deployment in Europe the 3rd CAB will primarily operate from its bases in Germany, Greece and Romania. However, they will also train with other allied forces on occasion in other countries in support of its OAR tasking. Countries released in the OAR fact sheet by US Army Europe (except listed above): Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Slovakia.

Except supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve the 3rd CAB will also be participating in exercise Defender Europe 20. The US Army announced the largest U.S.-based Army exercise to Europe taken place in the last 25 years. Defender Europe will be running from February until August 2020 with most activity during the months April and May. Roughly 20.000 U.S. troop will participate with approximately 17.000 NATO soldiers.
 
3rd CAB "Marne Air"
 
3rd CAB command structure:
Division, Brigade Abbr. Nickname Base
3rd Infantry Division 3rd ID   Fort Stewart, Georgia
3rd Combat Aviation Brigade 3rd CAB  Marne Air Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia
Aviation Regiment, battalion Abbr. Nickname
     
2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment 2-3 GSAB Knighthawks
4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment 4-3 AHB Blackhearts
3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment 3-17 ARS Lighthorse
603rd Aviation Support Battalion 603rd ASB Workhorse
     

3rd CAB companies (GSAB, AHB, ARS):

Company Nickname Helicopter
A/2-3 GSAB Storm UH-60L
B/2-3 GSAB Hercules  CH-47F
C/2-3 GSAB Dustoff HH-60M
A/4-3 AHB Spiders UH-60M
B/4-3 AHB   UH-60M
C/4-3 AHB Black Knight UH-60M
A/3-17 ARS Silver Spurs AH-64D
B/3-17 ARS Blackjack AH-64D
C/3-17 ARS Crazyhorse AH-64D

Notes:

Compared to colleague Combat Aviation Brigades the 3rd CAB lacks an Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB) assigned with the AH-64D/E Apache.

3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment also has E company assigned which is operating the General Atomics MQ-1C "Gray Eagle". E/3-17 ARS

The author would like to thank: Major James
Seale 3rd CAB, 1LT Kelsey Cochran 3rd CAB PAO and SFC Aaron Duncan 21st TSC
PAO.
 
Photo gallery port of Zeebrugge, October 16