Minnesota-based aviation unit honors storied division, enters into new, ‘expeditionary’ era

By 1st Lt. Eric Jungels
34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Dec. 12, 2017)  Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB), who recently celebrated a year full of achievements, have embraced a new name: Red Devils.

The St. Paul-based unit hosted its annual aviation brigade ball Dec. 9, at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale, Minnesota, where the unit’s new logo was unveiled.

Soldiers of the 34th ECAB, which falls under and supports the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, will continue to wear the Red Bull insignia on their uniforms. However, they will now be known and referred to as the Red Devils, a name that pays homage to the division’s historical accomplishments and fierce warfighting.

The symbol of the 34th Infantry Division features a steer skull imposed on the shape of an olla, a Mexican cooking pot. During World War II, German soldiers in Italy referred to the American soldiers who wore the familiar patch as “Red Devils” or “Red Bulls.”

Now, the 34th ECAB has assumed the Red Devils name, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

In October, the aviation unit officially transitioned from a “combat aviation brigade” to an “expeditionary combat aviation brigade,” as part of the U.S. Army’s Aviation Restructuring Initiative (ARI). The ARI, which was intended to rebalance the Army’s aviation force structure into a smaller, more capable and sustainable force, was the most significant change to Army aviation in decades.

The ECAB is designed to be modular and tailorable, to complete an array of tasks across a variety of contingencies. ECAB’s are organized as required to support offensive, defensive, and stability operations in support of ground maneuver forces or in defense support of civilian authorities.

When task organized with an attack reconnaissance unit, ECABs also provide accurate and timely information collection; provide reaction time and maneuver space; and destroy, defeat, disrupt, or delay enemy forces.

Leaders of the 34th ECAB have worked diligently to ensure the unit’s structure, tasks, and training events meet the needs and expectations of the greater Army, and — despite the evolution in organizational structure — the unit’s commitment to readiness and relevancy endure.

“I’m incredibly proud of this brigade and everything our Soldiers and their families have done to support our state and nation,” said Col. Shawn Manke, commander of the 34th ECAB. “As we move into 2018, the Red Devils will continue to accomplish readiness goals and to respond when called upon.”

The Minnesota-based subordinate units of the 34th ECAB are the 2-147th Assault Helicopter Battalion, the 834th Aviation Support Battalion, and F Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion. Additionally, the 34th ECAB has training oversight over B Company and C Company of the 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, based in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Outside Minnesota, the 34th ECAB provides training and operational guidance to the subordinate 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion, headquartered in Montana, and the 1-183rd Aviation Regiment, headquartered in Idaho.