Lt. Col. Jason Arriaga can’t help but gush a little when he talks about his two years at Fort Bliss and El Paso.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to train and live in,” said Arriaga, who has led the 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment for the past 23 months.
Arriaga, a 42-year-old from Corpus Christi, Texas, will relinquish command of the Apocalypse Battalion at 10 a.m. Monday at the battalion hangar, 11203 CSM E. Slewitzke St.
Leading Fort Bliss’ air-assault battalion has been one of the top assignments in his 19-year career, he said.
“The environment here, from the community to the division to the garrison, has been the perfect environment for my family and this organization,” Arriaga said.
“I would offer this to anyone in the Army: If they are looking for a good place to live and train, it is right here at Fort Bliss,” he said.
Arriaga, a Black Hawk pilot by trade, is leaving to become a staff officer at the Pentagon in Army aviation operations. He will be succeeded by Lt. Col. Eric D. Carlson, who most recently served as the aviation planner for Joint Task Force North at Fort Bliss.
The past 23 months have been a busy time for Arriaga and the Apocalypse Battalion. Arriaga led them on a train-up and then a rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., in April 2016. The 3-501st did the rotation in support of Fort Bliss’ 3rd Brigade.
The 3rd Brigade subsequently deployed to Kuwait from summer 2016 to spring 2017, while the 3-501st went to Europe during roughly the same time.
While in Europe, Arriaga’s battalion was primarily stationed in Germany and in several Eastern European countries, but did operations and training missions throughout the continent.
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While deployed, the battalion did a rotation at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany and supported four or five other rotations there.
Since returning home to Fort Bliss in March and April, the battalion has remained busy with several big training exercises. These soldiers did a large-scale air-assault exercise in June at White Sands Missile Range. They then took part in a combined arms live-fire exercise in July at Fort Bliss with the rest of the Combat Aviation Brigade.
This busy but focused training regimen over the past two years has produced a battalion that is in a great place to be handed off to a new commander, Arriaga said.
“We are ready to do graduate-level training,” he said.
Arriaga and his successor, Carlson, have known each other for about 10 years from when they were company commanders in the same air-assault battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C. and then during a deployment to Afghanistan.
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“He’s a phenomenal officer,” Arriaga said.
Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Jayson Crowley called working with Arriaga a “tremendous privilege.”
Arriaga inspires officers and enlisted soldiers “through his clear leadership, his empathic nature and by being a strong mentor,” Crowley said.
David Burge may be reached at 546-6126; email@example.com; @dburge1962 on Twitter.
Lt. Col. Jason Arriaga
- Education: bachelor’s in business administration from Texas A&M University; and master’s in international business administration from University of South Carolina.
- Awards: Bronze Star (one oak leaf cluster); Meritorious Service Medal (three oak leaf clusters); Air Medal; Army Commendation (one oak leaf cluster); Army Achievement Medal.
- Family: Married to Sara, from Sheboygan, Wis. Children – Sylvia, 10; Zavien, 6.
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