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WAR GAMES TAKE WING OVER UTAH DESERT

National Guard helicopters are chopping through the cloudy skies of the western Utah desert, in what is billed as the largest aviation maneuver ever by Army units in this country.

Day and night missions were being staged by 60 helicopters, 100 vehicles and 600 soldiers, said Guard spokesman Lt. Col. George Becker.The 211th Aviation Group is conducting field training exercises across a huge swath of western Utah and eastern Nevada as part of its annual two-week training. Based in Wendover, the drills started Sunday and continue through Friday.

Maneuvers were going on from Milford in the south to Reno, Nev., in the west, and Pocatello, Idaho, in the north. The eastern limit was the Wasatch Front.

The 211th Group is hosting their subordinates, attack helicopter battalions from West Jordan and Boise, Idaho. Both units are flying Apache attack helicopters. Also participating is a combat support aviation battalion equipped with the Blackhawk helicopter.

Usually, active-duty military exercises are confined to a limited area, like an Army fort, and rarely does more than a battalion of helicopters get together at one time, Becker said.

"Here you get a group headquarters, two attack battalions and two support companies, all at one time," he said.