The 11th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade is a Combat Aviation Brigade in the United States Army Reserve. It is one of two aviation brigades of Army Reserve Aviation Command. The brigade consists of a headquarters company, two Black Hawk assault battalions, and one fixed wing battalion, as follows:
- HHC, 11th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Carson, Colorado
- 1st Battalion (Assault), 158th Aviation Regiment, at Conroe, Texas, equipped with UH-60 Black Hawk
- 8th Battalion (Assault), 229th Aviation Regiment, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, equipped with UH-60 Black Hawk
- 6th Battalion (Theater) (Forward), 52nd Aviation Regiment, at Los Alamitos, California
The brigade was activated in its current formation on 16 September 2016. The unit’s lineage traces to the prior lineage and insignia in the active component of the 11th Aviation Group, which was last headquartered in Illesheim, Germany in 2004.
The 11th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade incorporates the history of the 11th Aviation Group which can be traced to the 11th Airborne Division, which served in the Pacific Theater during World War II and in the Army of Occupation in Japan after the war. The division returned to the United States in May 1949 and established its headquarters at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The Angels moved to Germany in 1956 and subsequently inactivated on 1 July 1958 when it was reflagged as the 24th Infantry Division. The 24th temporarily retained a partial Airborne capability to include the 1st Airborne Battle Group, 187th Infantry; the 1st Airborne Battle Group, 503rd Infantry; and the 11th Quartermaster Company, a parachute rigger unit. Within a year 1–187th and 1–503rd rotated to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to become part of the 82nd Airborne Division while the rigger company relocated to the 8th Infantry Division in Mainz, where a new Airborne component was being formed within the division.
The colors remained dormant until the requirement for air mobility (heliborne tactical movement) of infantry units was established by the Department of the Army in 1962. Secretary of the ArmyCyrus R. Vance envisioned that the Army required its own organic aviation assets to meet immediate combat needs of infantry units. The XVIII Airborne Corps began experimenting with this new concept by using borrowed helicopters. By the end of the year, Secretary Vance decided to form a test division to further evaluate this new concept.
On 1 February 1963, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 11th Aviation Group, was activated for testing purposes as a Regular Army element of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test). Under the leadership of Major General Charles W.G. Rich, the Test Director, and Brigadier General Harry Kinnard, the Division Commander, the group worked to formulate a unit that could move one-third of the division’s infantry battalions and supporting units in one single helicopter lift. The unit operated out of Fort Benning, Georgia.
The testing process proved highly successful and on 1 July 1965 the group was reassigned to the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) when the assets of the 11th Air Assault Division and the 2nd Infantry Division were merged into a single unit. Within several months the division deployed to South Vietnam.
The mission of the 1st Cavalry was to “fight battles of movement, ranging swiftly to places where they are needed.” Secretary of DefenseRobert S. McNamara described the new 428 helicopter-equipped 1st Cavalry Division as “an entirely new approach to the conduct of land battle which will result in the exploitation of the principle of surprise to an unprecedented degree.”
As part of the 1st Cavalry, the 11th Aviation Group controlled the 227th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter), 228th Aviation Battalion (Medium Helicopter) and 229th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter), whose helicopters were the lifeblood of the Army’s first airmobile division. The group also included the 11th Aviation Company (General Support), 17th Aviation Company (Airmobile Light) and 478th Aviation Company (Heavy Helicopter).
From 1965 through 1968 the 11th Aviation Group saw combat in the I and II Corps areas of South Vietnam. The Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for the Pleiku Campaign of 1965 and the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period September 1965 to November 1966. In 1968, the Group moved to Phước Vĩnh Base Camp in III Corps and remained there until early 1971 where the Group was awarded the Valorous Unit Award for the period 6 May 1969 through 1 February 1970.
In February 1971 the Group was assigned to the 1st Aviation Brigade and redeployed to Marble Mountain Army Airfield near Da Nang; it was officially released from the 1st Cavalry Division on 5 May 1971. In August 1972 the Group departed Marble Mountain Army Airfield and resettled at Da Nang Air Base.