7277 Night Stalker Way
Staff Duty Office
The Army owes its modern night fighting aviation capabilities to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). The Soldiers of the 160th pioneered night flight techniques, shared in the development of equipment, and proved that “Night Stalkers don’t quit,” a motto the regiment lives by.
The unit originally formed from attachments of the 101st Airborne Division and upon its inception, the Soldiers immediately entered into a period of intensive night flying — quickly becoming the Army’s premier night fighting aviation force and the Army’s only special operations aviation force. Task Force 160 was officially recognized as a unit Oct. 16, 1981, when it was designated as the 160th Aviation Battalion. Since that time, the 160th has become known as the “Night Stalkers” because of its capability to strike undetected during the hours of darkness and its impeccable performance around the world.
In 1983, the 160th received its baptism by fire in Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury. While conducting an assault on simultaneous targets, the unit suffered its first combat loss, Capt. Keith J. Lucas. Since that time, the unit has responded to numerous missions at the request of the president of the United States and the secretary of defense.
In 1987, Night Stalkers participated in Operation Prime Chance, where they engaged and neutralized an enemy threat while using aviator night vision goggles and forward-looking infrared devices over water. This was the first successful night combat engagement under these conditions. The following year they participated in Operation Mount Hope III, which included the most demanding environmental flight conditions imaginable, demonstrating the ability of man and machine to strike deep, accomplish the mission and return safely.
In December 1989, Night Stalkers were called upon to spearhead Operation Just Cause — the liberation of Panama. Soldiers of the 160th deployed from Fort Campbell during the harshest winter conditions on record, into the sweltering heat and darkness of Panama. The unit again suffered casualties while simultaneously engaging multiple targets, resulting in two combat losses and two destroyed aircraft.
During Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm included the swift introduction of special operations aviation into the Southwest Asia theater. Both operations proved the 160th’s ability to conduct complicated night missions and sustain combat operations as a unit against a determined enemy. The operations were successful. However, the regiment suffered four combat losses and one destroyed aircraft.
In October 1993, at the request of the president of the United States, Night Stalkers engaged an unconventional hostile force in Somalia. The Soldiers of the 160th entered into an 18-hour firefight with an intensity not encountered since the war in Vietnam. The battle resulted in the loss of five Night Stalkers and eight damaged or destroyed aircraft. The dedicated efforts exhibited by these Soldiers to overcome adversity and rescue fellow comrades once again demonstrated that “Night Stalkers don’t quit.”
The regiment supported Operation Uphold Democracy in September 1994, validating the Adaptive Joint Force Package concept by conducting missions from the aircraft carrier USS America. In April 1996, elements of the 160th deployed to assist in the evacuation of noncombatants from the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia. Operation Assured Response lasted just 10 days, during which Night Stalkers assisted in evacuating more than 2,000 noncombatants with no losses to the regiment.
Currently, the 160th remains actively engaged in the overseas contingency operations by conducting combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the special operations community.
Since its inception, the 160th has evolved through various configurations. On Oct. 16, 1986, the tough warrior spirit of the airborne and the tenacious determination of the Night Stalkers were joined as the task force further evolved and became an airborne unit. With redesignation as the 160th Aviation Special Operations Group (Airborne) came the honored and rich tradition of the airborne Soldier. The organization continued to grow and was officially activated as the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) in June 1990.
Responding to an increased demand for elite, highly trained, special operations aviation assets, the regiment activated three battalions and a separate detachment and incorporated one National Guard battalion. In June 2006, the regiment provisionally activated its 4th Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and relocated a company from overseas to Fort Campbell. In November 2013, the regiment activated the first unmanned aerial surveillance company at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. This company relocated to Fort Campbell in 2016.
The organization continues to mature to meet the nation’s special operations aviation requirements. The courageous response of the Army’s only special operations aviation unit has successfully deterred aggressive and provocative threats by those who seek to harm our country; bolstered national morale and prestige; and supported national foreign policy goals. Today, as in the past, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) remains ready to defeat any threat.
160TH SPECIAL OPERATIONS AVIATION REGIMENT (SOAR) UNITS160TH SPECIAL OPERATIONS AVIATION REGIMENT (SOAR) UNITS
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky
1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky
2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky
3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia
4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
Special Operations Aviation Training Battalion, Fort Campbell, Kentucky