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Spec ops aviation unit seeks mechanics, others

Nov. 28, 2012 - 07:14AM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 28, 2012 - 07:14AM  |  
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Go to the 160th SOAR’s website for an application form or for more information.
It takes an average of four weeks after applying to hear back from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, said Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Wilson.
It usually takes at least three to four months before a soldier who is accepted receives orders, he said.
To qualify, soldiers must:
• Have a General Technical score of 100 or more.
• Be able to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test, and they cannot have a permanent profile.
• Be U.S. citizens who can obtain and maintain a secret clearance and be financially stable.
• Have at least 36 months of service remaining on their contracts or be willing to re-enlist to join the regiment.

Calling all Chinook mechanics: The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment wants you.

The 160th, the Army's elite special operations aviation unit, needs 100 to 125 CH-47 repairers to join its ranks this fiscal year.

"We are critically short 15Us," said Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Wilson, from the 160th, which is based at Fort Campbell, Ky. "We haven't, in the last seven to eight years, been full on 15U."

The regiment also is seeking hundreds of applicants for a variety of military occupational specialties from unmanned aerial vehicle maintainers and operators to electricians to join its ranks.

"It sounds like small numbers, but we don't have a lot of [these soldiers], so when we come up short, it gets critical," Wilson said.

Soldiers in the 160th can get re-enlistment bonuses, Wilson said. For example, E-4s who qualify have been receiving about $10,000, on average, which is paid after they graduate from Enlisted Green Platoon.

The regiment, which has more than 2,200 enlisted personnel, is always seeking qualified applicants in 56 MOSs, Wilson said. This year, it is focusing on six:

15U CH-47 repairer.

15N avionic mechanic.

15F aircraft electrician.

15G aircraft structural repairer.

15E unmanned aircraft systems repairer.

15W unmanned aerial vehicle operator.

This marks the first time the regiment is seeking UAV repairers and operators, Wilson said.

"We're standing up two companies, and we're looking for all interested applicants up to E-7," he said.

The regiment typically doesn't accept applications from soldiers who are staff sergeants or higher, but because the UAV units are new, Wilson and his team are trying to widen the candidate pool.

For the other MOSs, the regiment is seeking specialists and sergeants with one operational assignment under their belts, Wilson said.

However, newly promoted staff sergeants with less than one year time-in-grade should apply if they're interested, Wilson said.

"Our target group is E-4, E-5, but we will review E-6s," he said. "We don't deter anyone from applying. The problem is, it takes so long to train someone. If they're making E-7, we can't take them. We have a lot of E-6s [in the regiment], but we can only have so many E-7s. We don't want to spend all this time training an E-6 only to lose them."

Sergeant first class slots within the regiment are highly coveted and very limited, Wilson said.

"We lose a lot of very experienced soldiers," he said, adding that the enlisted force in the 160th sees 12 percent to 15 percent attrition each year.

"We work with [Human Resources Command] to keep them, but the Army needs those E-7s," he said. "We can try to hoard them all we want, but that means some unit going on deployment needs that E-7."

Soldiers who apply and are selected to join the regiment must complete Enlisted Green Platoon, a five-week program at Fort Campbell.

"Green Platoon is the first step in becoming a Night Stalker," said Wilson, using the moniker for soldiers in the 160th. "If, during that time, they quit or don't demonstrate the proper motivation that we're looking for, they can be reassigned depending on the needs of the Army."

On average, about 59 percent of the soldiers who are assigned a training seat for Enlisted Green Platoon will graduate, he said.

Once soldiers graduate from Enlisted Green Platoon, they typically attend follow-on training programs to learn about the special operations equipment used in the regiment, Wilson said.

For example, CH-47 repairers can expect 26 to 27 weeks of follow-on training. This includes the regiment's Basic Maintainers Course, the Nonrated Crew Member Course, Helicopter Underwater Egress Training, and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training.

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