LTC Eric McKinney & CSM Carl Cunningham
BN COMMANDER OFFICE:
STAFF DUTY NUMBER:
The 224th Aviation Battalion (Radio Research) was activated in Saigon, Vietnam, on 1 June 1966. 4 companies with a total of 6 aircraft and 169 personnel initially comprised the Battalion, but it quickly expanded in size. By July 1967, the Battalion had reached its highest strength of 1,066 personnel and 30 aircraft.
On 19 May 1971, the Battalion was redesignated the 224th Army Security Agency Aviation Battalion. The Battalion participated in 15 campaigns and received 3 Meritorious Unit Commendations, along with the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm during its service in the Vietnam Conflict. On 3 March 1973, the colors of the Battalion were transferred to Oakland, California, and the unit was deactivated.
On 1 June 1981, the unit was reactivated as the 224th Military Intelligence Battalion (Aerial Exploitation) at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia. The Battalion was organized with Headquarters and Headquarters and Service Company, Company Alpha (Aerial Surveillance) (OV-1/RV-1 Mohawk) and Company Bravo (Electronic Warfare) (Guardrail). From February 1984 to January 1990, the Battalion provided continuous aerial intelligence support to the U.S. Southern Command.
In 1996, Alpha Company ended a legacy when they retired the last of the OV-1 and RV-1 Mohawk reconnaissance aircraft and was then deactivated in 1997.
In August 2001 until June 2002, Bravo Company deployed the RC-12N Guardrail Common Sensor System to Operation PHOENIX VENTURE in Kuwait and also supported US Central Command during Operations DESERT SPRING, SOUTHERN WATCH and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
On 15 November 2002, the 21st Military Intelligence Company (Aerial Surveillance) (Hunter UAV) from the Joint Readiness Training Center at Ft. Polk, Louisiana was redesignated as Alpha Company, 224th Military Intelligence Battalion (RQ-5A Hunter UAV). From October through December 2002, Bravo Company deployed to South America to support Operation PALMETTO DECK in support of US Southern Command anti-terrorism and counter-drug operations.
In January 2003, Alpha Company deployed to the CENTCOM AOR in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Bravo Company and Headquarters and Service Company entered Iraq in May 2003 until September 2003. Alpha Company redeployed their Soldiers to Ft. Polk in January 2004 and restationed to Hunter Army Air Field on 22 March 2004.
From May through December 2004, Bravo Company again deployed to the CENTCOM AOR, this time to Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
From August through October 2005, Bravo Company responded to an urgent request from U.S. Southern Command to conduct a quick reaction deployment to South America for Operation PALMETTO DECK II.
Alpha Company conducted two deployments to Ft. Huachuca in 2004 and 2005 in support of JTF-N Homeland Security Mission.
The Battalion, under the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade (Airborne), deployed to Iraq from 2 May 2006 to 1 May 2007 in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 06-08. On 16 December 2006, the Battalion was reassigned to the US Army Intelligence and Security Command. From 6 May 2008 until July 2009 the Battalion redeployed to Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 08-10, under the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. Headquarters and Service Company and Alpha Company redeployed in 2009 while Bravo Company resupplied and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Alpha Company rejoined combat operations from February 2011 through August 2014, by leading a Government-Owned-Contractor-Operated Hunter UAV site in Afghanistan. The Battalion deployed again from May 2012 to December 2012 as Task Force CONDOR in Afghanistan under the Mission Command of Task Force Observe Detect Identify Neutralize (ODIN).
The Battalion transitioned to 116th Military Intelligence Brigade and has transitioned from the Guardrail Aircraft to the MC-12W Liberty and then to the current Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System (EMARSS) and from the MQ-5B Hunter UAS to the MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS. The Battalion has remained deployed in combat operations since for the previous four years they have also added Forward Air Detachments in Chad, Africa, Guatemala, and Colombia.
In 2018, Bravo Company began conducting Remote Split Operations with the Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems out of the Continental United States, the first unit in the Army to conduct these operations.
The Battalion and its Soldiers, Civilians, and defense partners are currently operating in five locations on four continents.