224th MI Battalion

The 224th MI Battalion conduct aerial collection and exploitation of communications and electronic intelligence in support of INSCOM and other War Fighters.


Leadership Team

Battalion Commander - 912-315-6381
Battalion CSM - 912-315-5702

Battalion Staff Sections:

S-1: 912-315-6224
S-2: 912-315-6628
S-3: 912-315-5100
S-4: 912-315-5156
S-6: 912-315-1007

Vision:
A Professional Aerial Exploitation Community that provides World Class Intelligence to the Warfighter

COAT OF ARMS

Shield: Quarterly azure and argent a griffin sejant or grasping two flashes saltirewise gules.

Motto: VIGILANCE ABOVE

The history of the 224th MI BN (AE) dates back to requirements generated from the Vietnamese conflict. The first US Army Security (USASA) mission aircraft, the U-6 Beaver, was introduced in Vietnam in March 1962. Over the next few years, the airborne effort was organized as the Aviation Section of the 3rd Radio Research Unit (RRU). The Aviation Section Headquarters was located at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, with aviation detachments located at Phu Bai, Da Nang, and Can Tho. USASA’s airborne effort was a prime reason for the 3rd RRU to be awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period of 13 May 1961 – 31 December 1962. This represented the first such decoration presented to a US Army unit in Vietnam, and demonstrated the tremendous value of aerial surveillance in a combat environment.

With the build-up of US Forces in Vietnam in 1965, USASA’s support role expanded. To better manage its increasing resources, USASA discontinued the 3rd RRU and organized the 509th Radio Research Group in its place on 1 June 1966. On the same date, the HQ & HQ Detachment, 224th Aviation Battalion (Radio Research) was activated in Saigon to oversee the 509th Group’s aviation assets. Simultaneously, four companies were activated and subordinated to the 224th Aviation Battalion to support the following areas of responsibility:

Area of Responsibility Unit Activated/Location
I Corps Tactical Zone 138th Aviation Company (RR), Da Nang
II Corps Tactical Zone 144th Aviation Company (RR), Nha Trang
III Corps Tactical Zone 146th Aviation Company (RR), Saigon
IV Corps Tactical Zone 156th Aviation Company (RR), Can Tho

The Battalion and its subordinate companies began with only 36 aircraft and 169 personnel, but quickly expanded in size. The original Battalion motto was the “Lonely Ringer”, and the unit crest was a set of wings with lightning bolts through them representing the synergism of Army Aviation and radio research (see ANNEX 1). The location of its headquarters was with the 509th Group at Tan Son Nhut Airfield, some five kilometers west of Saigon. The cantonment area itself was known as Davis Station, named in honor of the first USASA Soldier to be killed in the Vietnamese war. The 224th Battalion’s BOQ was at New Port, not far from the base.

In June 1967, the 1st Radio Research Company (Aviation) deployed to Vietnam and provided additional augmentation to the 224th Battalion. Unlike the other companies, the 1st RR Company (AV) had a mission in direct support of the US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (USMACV). Located at Cam Ranh Bay, the unit had six former Navy Neptunes (P-2e’s). These specially configured platforms were known to the Army as CEFLIEN LION (formerly CRAZY CAT).

In July 1967, the 224th RR Battalion and its subordinate units reached their highest combined strength of 1066 personnel. The Battalion HQ’s strength alone was 17 officers, 1 warrant officer, and 106 enlisted personnel. Within two years total aircraft assigned to the companies totaled 80. (None of the aircraft were directly assigned to the 224th BN HQ’s.)

The USASA airborne effort which had begun in March 1962 with the first operational flight of a U-6 formally ended eleven years later on 3 March 1973 with the inactivation of the 224th ASA Aviation Battalion. The colors of the Battalion were transferred to Oakland Army Terminal, Oakland, California, where the unit was formally inactivated. The inactivation of the 224th in 1973 marked the end of the “lonely ringer” Battalion.

The reactivation of the 224th Aviation Battalion occurred on 1 December 1980 with an effective MTOE date of 1 June 1981. The Battalion was redesignated as the 224th Military Intelligence Battalion (Aerial Exploitation), and was assigned to the 525th Military Intelligence Group (Combat Electronic Warfare Intelligence) of the XVIII Airborne Corps. With the new designation came a new unit crest and a new unit motto. “Vigilance Above” was born, and a griffin grasping bolts of lightning was the design for the new crest of the Battalion.

Concurrently with the formation of the battalion HQ & HQ and Service Company was the formation of Alpha and Bravo Companies. The 172nd Military Intelligence Detachment was reactivated and redesignated as A/224th, and the 144th Aviation Company was reactivated and redesignated as B/224th. These two companies bring with them a distinguished history of both Army Intelligence and Army Aviation, and therefore represent the combination of abilities which this Battalion outstandingly employs.

The 224th MI BN (AE) began as the eyes and ears of the XVIII Airborne Corps Commander. Its mission was to provide airborne reconnaissance support for the Commander’s Area of Interest in a wartime scenario. This objective is achieved through intense realistic training in times of peace. Part of this training involves support of real world missions. Since the reactivation of the 224th, the Battalion has contributed greatly to several ongoing real world missions.

Starting in 1983 the Battalion was given the mission of supporting the United States Southern Command. From 1983 until 1989, the 224th MI BN (AE) provided outstanding aerial intelligence support to Southern Command, and received numerous awards for its significant contributions in the area of intelligence operations.

In 1989, with the formation of the MI BN Low Intensity (LI) the 224th MI BN (AE) turned over its mission, of support to the US Southern Command, and moved into its next phase of real world mission support. Due to the increased emphasis on combating the flow of narcotics into the United States, the 224th was given the mission of counter-narcotics support. This effort began in October 1989 and continued until the advent of Operation Desert Storm, in the Middle East in August of 1990.

In August, the Battalion was tasked to provide support to operation Desert Shield, and responded quickly by sending several troops and assets to augment the operation. After having established its critical support for the Desert Shield effort, the Battalion continued to demonstrate its flexibility and effectiveness. With reduced personnel and equipment the 224th developed a concept of operations, and is now prepared fully to return to its previous mission of counter-narcotics support.

The 224th MI BN Unit Crest
SHIELD: Oriental blue and silver gray with a gold border. The crest features the mythological Griffin grasping two lightning flashes.
MOTTO: Vigilance Above!!
SYMBOLISM: Oriental blue and silver grey are colors associated with Military Intelligence. The crosswise arrangement of the background is a reference to the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry awarded to the unit for service in Vietnam, 1970-71. The Griffin is a heraldic creature combining the strength and courage of a lion with the vigilance and awareness of an eagle; as such it is well suited to represent the ideals and capabilities of an intelligence unit. Its wings refer to the airborne mission and the flashes it grasps denote the electronic data collection mission of the unit.

Decorations

  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Vietnam 1966-1967
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Vietnam 1967-1969
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Vietnam 1971-1972
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Operation Iraqi Freedom 2006-2007
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Operation Iraqi Freedom 2008-2009
  • Army Superior Unit Award, 1987-1988
  • Army Superior Unit Award, 1988-1990
  • Army Superior Unit Award, 1992-1993
  • Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, 1970-1971
  • National Security Agency Director’s Trophy for Excellence as a Tactical Cryptologic Unit, 1984, 1987, 2006
  • Army Aviation Association of America Fixed Wing Unit of the Year, 1996
  • National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Award, 1995-1996 & 2005
  • Association of Old Crows – Army Unit Award as determined by the Chief of Staff of the Army, 2005

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