It is with pride (and frankly, no surprise) that I share the news of two units of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment receiving the highest battalion-level awards given in the United States Army.

The Lt Gen Ellis D. Parker awards are the top unit honors in Army Aviation, and are highly sought after.  1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A) was designated both the Outstanding Combat Aviation Battalion and the Aviation Battalion of the Year.  The article linked here notes they are deployed 365 days of the year; what it doesn’t say is that has been true since 2001.

Their two airframe types and four mission profiles are critical to the Special Operations fight around the world.  They do it day in and day out, without complaint or respite, to the tune of over 10,000 flight hours per year.  That alone is worth notice.  Their professionalism and dedication is evident in their execution and accomplishment, but it is great to have that work recognized outside the “community” as well.

Coalition forces conduct a raid against  known al-Qaeda in Iraq operatives near Mahmudiyah, December 15, 2008.  (Dept. of Defense photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua DeMotts) (Not Released)
Coalition forces conduct a raid against known al-Qaeda in Iraq operatives near Mahmudiyah, December 15, 2008. (Dept. of Defense photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua DeMotts) (Not Released)

For the second year in a row, the Special Operations Aviation Training Battalion (SOATB) was recognized as the best Army Aviation TDA Battalion, meaning a non-deployable training unit.  Established as a battalion within the last decade, the unit is the single source of aviation training and qualification for the Special Operations Aviation mission.  All pilots and crew members of the Regiment will pass through their training, if they want to be Nightstalkers.

Notice, too, that their 9,300 flight hours for the year is only a shade below the flying hours for a combat battalion.  The training is tough, demanding, and constantly changing to incorporate new technologies and tactics.  They work year in and year out to provide the Regiment with the crew members it needs to support the Special Operations community.  It is a ‘behind the scenes’ job, but truly the most important.  Executing difficult missions is hard; training and qualifying the best aviators and crew members in the world to perform those missions is essential.

Congratulations to all involved.  NSDQ!

(Featured Image Courtesy: DVIDs)

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