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Fort Bragg Soldiers Train to Search and Destroy

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FORT BRAGG — Some Fort Bragg soldiers are using real ammunition and dropping deadly weapons from Apache helicopters.

It is not real warfare, but the exercise is as close to the real thing as anyone could get.

Since the end of the cold war, the duty of the Apache has grown. It is ready to destroy enemy tanks, and is now used more than ever in peacekeeping missions.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 229th Attack Helicopter Battalion are qualifying to train, track and destroy targets on the battlefield. The rockets they are using are the real thing, and the exercise is to prepare for war.

"We need to come out in a training environment and do it as we would in combat," says refueler SPC Bryant Williams.

The pilots, their crew and their Apaches train for different types of missions as well. Fort Bragg has 18 aircraft in Bosnia, and eight Apaches just got back from Kuwait. They have seen more time in the air in peacekeeping efforts.

"The ground commanders realized looking at our aerial footage and the tape we were able to cut, that the capabilities of the Apache are coming into their own nowadays," Chief Instructor Pilot WO3 John McCann.

The Apache's new mission in Bosnia has been its use in reconnaissance video. It can spot people and activity from a distance.

"We still train as if there is going to be a war, that's what this is," says Apache electrician SPC Andrea Brandon. "It will help us for what does come up."

The Apache qualifying will continue at Fort Bragg through the end of the month.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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