CPT Jason Birkle
|Name: Jason Birkle
Current Duty Station: Fort Campbell, soon to deploy to Afghanistan
I was branched aviation and went to Ft. Rucker in November after I graduated. I spent a year and a month there in what was probably the most concentrated information flow into my head that I had ever experienced. It was rough with a lot of late night studying and long hours in order to do well in a competitive branch. After flight school, I went through a short OBC where we concentrated on becoming an Aviation officer. We also go through Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E) school which takes another couple of weeks. Finally I graduated and was able to choose Alaska as my first duty station (you got to choose based on how well you do in the class). I arrived in Alaska and became the Battalion motor officer. This means I was in charge of the maintenance and operations for all the ground vehicles in an Aviation Battalion. This wasn't exactly the job I had been trained for, but I was a platoon leader and loved working with the group of guys I had. I spent almost a year in this job and learned a lot about the ground side of operations at the Battalion level which I still use to this day. After that year I was transferred to a flight company where I was the Platoon Leader for the Aviation Maintenance within the company. Both the ground maintenance and the aviation maintenance platoons were brand new when I took over and it was a challenge to come up with SOP's from scratch when I had no idea what I was doing. However, I asked a lot of questions and relied on the experience around me and was able to leave both platoons better than how I had found them. After half a year, I took over one of the Flight platoons and have been there for the last year.
My company was recently deployed in Iraq and we were split in two operating groups on each side of the country. I was the detachment commander for the East side and my company commander was in charge of the West side. The one constant that I have found is that it doesn't matter what branch you end up in, you need to be prepared for any job the Army puts you in. I have met Chemical, Ordnance, Armor, Signal and many others who have never done a thing within their own branch and end up being Battle Captains (the OIC for day to day operations within the TOC) for a Squadron size operation. They learn real fast all the different facets of how to run a full operation. Many of my fellow aviation officers have been picked up for MITT teams (I forgot what the acronym stands for). They are brought to Ft. Bragg or Benning and trained to teach the Iraqi Army how to conduct operations. They then deploy to Iraq and work day to day with the IA in all different kinds of tasks.
I returned from a yearlong deployment to Iraq where I served as a flight platoon leader for D/123 Aviation Regiment out of Ft. Wainwright, AK. It was a great experience where I learned a lot about taking care of my Soldiers while fighting the fight every day flying missions. Within a month after redeploying, I PCS'd to Ft. Rucker where I attended the nine month long Aviation Captains Career Course (AVCCC). Along with learning the doctornal knowledge nesseccarry to progress to the next level of command, I made a lot of new freinds and connections across not only my aviation branch, but many others as well. I can easily say that CCC is the best place to learn from your peers and network across your entire branch. There is not an Army post that I would not be able to find a friend.
After AVCCC, I PCS'd to Ft. Campbell and joined the prestigious 101st AV DIV (AASLT) as part of the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade. Within a month I was offered a job as the Commander of HHT, 7-17 Cavalry Regiment. Since taking command, our Squadron has done numerous training exercises to Ft. Bliss, Ft. Rucker and throughout our own AO at Ft. Campbell in preparation for our deployment to Afghanistan. It was a lot of late nights and a lot of time away from our families, but we came to the fight prepared and ready to go. We just recently arrived in Afghanistan and are settling in for the year.
Being in command has been tough, but it truly is the most rewarding experience I have had yet in the Army. It can be a lot of pressure knowing that the lives of your Soldiers are in your hands, but the satisfaction of mentoring and leading the best people America has to offer is well worth it.
Jason is married a fellow UWL ROTC alumni, Amber Juris (now Amber Birkle). Amber is a member of the Army Nurse Corps.