from Navy News
NORFOLK (NNS) --
Navy Reserve Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HSC) 84 capped off a year of
distinguished service when the squadron received the Citizen Patriot Unit
award for 2010 at a ceremony March 22 at Fort Myer, Va.
The Citizen Patriot award recognizes individuals and units or organizations
whose performance exceeds the normal scope of service in support of the
The three other awards for the squadron were the Navy Unit Commendation for
exceptionally meritorious service in action against enemy forces in support
of Iraqi Freedom for the period of March 2004 through January 2010; the 2010
Commander, Naval Air Forces Reserve Noel Davis Battle Efficiency Award; and
was selected as the Commander Naval Air Forces Reserve squadron of the year.
The squadron of the year recognizes HSC 84 as the most battle ready squadron
in the Naval Air Reserve.
2010 was a year of challenges and successes for the Red Wolves of HSC 84 who
distinguished themselves as a battle-tested squadron in support of Operation
Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Rear Adm. Chris Sadler, commander,
Naval Air Force Reserve, said the Red Wolves "were the clear stand outs
among this august group [of Navy Reserve Squadrons]."
The four awards HSC 84 received followed historical combat operations
conducted by the squadron. HSC 84 conducted the longest sustained combat
deployment of U. S. Navy helicopters in history. HSC 84 was also recognized
for its dedicated support to joint and coalition special operations forces
(SOF) operating in Iraq.
In 2010, HSC 84 flew more than 619 combat sorties. During the hundreds of
sorties HSC 84 provided armed escort for ground assault forces, completed
psychological warfare missions, intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance,
sniper over-watch, close air support, casualty evacuation, and continued
logistical troop movements of SOF personnel. In September 2010 the Red Wolves
surpassed a 12,000 hours combat flight-time milestone without loss of life or
injury due to enemy action.
Between deployments to the desert, the HSC 84 pilot and aircrew instructors
sustained a high flight training tempo. Between deployments they to guard
qualified full-time support, selected Reserve, and active-duty crew members
in tactical flight operations. The home guard component of the squadron also
sent detachments around the country in 2010 supporting multiple units. HSC 84
conducted training at the U. S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis
Air Force Base in Nevada; the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Fort Bragg,
N.C.; and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment in Savannah Ga.
The Sailors of HSC-84 continue the tradition of excellence in Naval Special
Warfare in 2011. The squadron departs in April for Nellis Air Force Base
outside Las Vegas to participate in joint exercises. The Red Wolves will also
conduct joint CSAR training with the airmen of the U. S. Air Force Weapons
School. The forward deployed members of Red Wolves Detachment One continue to
provide support in the Central Command area of responsibility.
from the Naval
Special Warfare Command’s facebook-site - December 2010:
additional rotary wing (RW) support for SOF missions has been a long-standing
challenge for U.S. Special Operations Command. In the past, SOF RW support
has been handled almost exclusively by the Army “Night Stalkers” of 160th
Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). Navy support has been limited,
and only the “Firehawks” of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HSC) 5 (now
disestablished) and the “Red Wolves” of Helicopter Sea Combatant Squadron
(HSC) 84 have had any consistency in completing SOF missions in theater.
In 2009, Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander USSOCOM, expressed his concern in a
memo to the CNO regarding the “Red Wolves”: “I am deeply concerned that this
magnificent operational support has not been institutionalized. To my
knowledge, there is no formalized agreement by the Navy to continue or expand
RW support for either training or operations. In fact, Naval Special Warfare
Command’s validated requirements for Navy RW support are significantly
under-resourced. I believe that assigning selected active and reserve RW
assets in direct support of SOF for both training and deployed operations
would positively resolve much of the current shortfall.”
The formal agreement that Olson spoke of is now becoming a reality. Recently,
the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead authorized Commander, Naval
Air Forces to dedicate two helicopter squadrons to the cause. The “Red
Wolves” of HSC-84 and the “High Rollers” of HSC-85 will support SOF missions.
The two reserve squadrons will each deploy a detachment of four helicopters
While deployed, the four helicopters from each squadron will be assigned
missions through Joint Air Asset Allocation and added to the assets of the 160th
SOAR in support of SOF.
“The hope is that we can focus on the maritime environment which lends to
more SEAL use, but it will not be exclusive,” said Cmdr. Keith Reams,
WARCOM’s operations officer.
The remaining aircraft INCONUS are under the operational control of
Commanders, 2nd Fleet for HSC-84 and 3rd Fleet for HSC-85. Dedicated SOF
support has many advantages, one of which is mobility. Experts agree that
mobility is one of the most important factors in the acquisition. Helicopters
provide a way of getting into tough locations as well as avoiding IEDs.
“What it provides, more than anything, is the ability to insert and extract
SEALs and special operators safely,” said Reams. “What we are finding out is
that most of our deaths overseas are from IEDs … guys getting hurt or killed
moving in or out from an operation using ground mobility. Although it could
happen, I’ve never heard of a helicopter landing on top of an IED and getting
blown up. You do hear that happening to cars and jeeps, Humvees, and people
all the time.”
Mobility not only means getting over tough terrain and avoiding IEDs, but
also getting to more time-sensitive targets. Cmdr. Michael Macenas, former
WARCOM operations officer who worked on the acquisition from 2006 to 2009,
explained that getting to time-sensitive targets can be challenging.
“If you have a high priority guy that you are targeting, and you know that he
is going to be at a certain place at a certain time, then that is a
time-sensitive target,” he said. “Helicopters can often help you make a
time-sensitive target that would be out of range by foot or by driving,” said
Macenas.” However, in theater, targets are prioritized by importance. Let’s
say that NSW has the number four priority target and he’s going to be at a place
at 7 o’clock. Then a second group calls in and says they have the number two
guy and he’s going to be at a different location at 6 o’clock. The first
group is going to get the assets. With more assets, we may be able to get
down to the number four target.”
Macenas also explained that dedicated support will mean much more than simply
dropping off and picking up guys, but also becoming part of an integrated
“They will be able to call for fire support and mission support, not just a
bus that takes them some place, but sticking around and being a part of the
airborne command and control structure,” he said. “Being a part of that
structure means they may be in play with UAVs, gunships, providing air
intelligence on current activity and providing casualty evacuation support.”
Flying SOF missions requires skills that go beyond flying maritime missions.
“We have to make sure these guys are trained well for the types of missions
that they will be conducting,” said Reams. “Just because it spins on the top
and can go faster than a truck is good, but if they guy can’t hover as guys
are fast-roping, then he’s more danger than he is worth.”
Reams explained that instead of trying to recreate the wheel with a new
training program, they will put the two squadrons through the 160th
Regiment’s Techniques Training and Procedures manual to get them up to speed.
“They are really the model for special operations support,” he said. “Our
current planning and operations have been modeled after what we’ve learned from
flying combined missions with the 160th, said Cmdr. Bob Arseneault, executive
officer HSC-84. “The adaptations we’ve made over the past several years have
more aligned us with how the 160th operates. We’ve made provisions to adapt
their training documents and align our training to theirs.”
Although two squadrons have been authorized to do SOF missions, only one of
the squadrons is currently capable of doing the job. HSC- 84 has the assets
and personnel to train and complete SOF missions.
In fact, HSC-84 has been completing SOF missions for the past few years, but
has been doing it without being recognized as an “official” SOF asset.
Currently, HSC-84 is exclusively conducting SOF missions as well as training
for future missions at Fort Bragg and United States Air Force Fighter Weapon
School for combat search and rescue training.
“CONUS training will likely increase, but probably not appreciably,” said
Arseneault. “While we’re in a support role, we also have training
requirements that need to be met to include gun flights, calls for fire, ISR
training, HRST, insert/extract and others.”
In contrast to HSC-84, HSC-85 has many obstacles to overcome before they will
be ready to support SOF missions. They must transition from flying MH-60S
Nighthawks to HH-60H Seahawks as well as shed their current mission. The
current plan is for HSC-85 to turnover its torpedo recovery mission to
Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 10 to allow them to focus on SOF
“This is a pretty difficult transition for our squadron,” said Cmdr. Gagne,
HSC-85’s commanding officer. “We have to take the primary mission that we
currently do and hand it to another unit at some point here in the next year
as well as transition aircraft and grow people and start training for our new
HSC-85 is currently billeted for 268 personnel but is projected to go to 423
by the end of the transition. Additional billeting will begin in Oct. and the
command should see its first two HH-60H Seahawks in Dec.
“The word as of now, given to us by SOCOM is that we will be a fully
deployable unit by first quarter fiscal year 2013,” said Gagne. “If we could
move our current mission out of the squadron about a year from now, it would
give us about a year and a half to train and be ready for that date.”
Although there are many challenges ahead, Gagne is confident in the
squadron’s personnel and believes strongly in the new mission.
“We have a very good group of people who are very motivated by the future
mission. My hope is that as they begin to understand the mission a little bit
more and see how special it is and how big of an impact we will could have on
the world, that everyone will have the same level of excitement about our
mission. Personally, I think this is the best mission in the Navy; especially
being a helicopter pilot… there is nothing better.”
MC2 John Scorza