News: Army airdrop specialists 'rig it up, ship it out'
Story by Senior Airman Bahja Jones
SOUTHWEST ASIA – Deployed troops in remote areas are limited in supplies they have on-hand and run the risk of driving convoys into hazardous areas to restock basic necessities. Providing perfect packed products, the 861th Quartermaster Company Detachment 1 here, also known Army Riggers, supply materials to ground forces to keep their operations thriving.
“Our mission is to provide supplies via aerial delivery throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Wade Shoemaker, the Army Riggers NCO in charge and Nashville, Tenn., native.
The current team is deployed from William F. Lyell Army Reserve Center, Tenn. Since June, the crew has rigged approximately 236,000 pounds of supplies and nearly 800 pounds of care packages airdropped to ground forces throughout the AOR.
“The benefit of airdropping is it reduces exposure,” Shoemaker said. “The soldiers aren’t exposed to hostile fire or other hazards as if they had to convoy it in there. They’re not on the roads; they’re not encountering improvised explosive devices.”
This capability also allows them access to supplies quickly, he added. If ground forces need supplies or emergency resupply, they can have them rigged and loaded on an aircraft in just a few hours.
Army Riggers here are tasked by the Combined Air and Space Operations Center and supply anything from food and water to fuel and building supplies.
Before building the bundles, they start in the “pit” producing energy displacement materials, skid boards, spreaders and barrel-bottoms, explained U.S. Army Spc. Steven Payne. Each bundle is rigged “from the ground up,” and uniformity is the key.
“This is especially important due to the fact no single bundle is worked on by any one individual,” said Payne, an Army Riggers airdrop specialist and Frankfort, Ky., native. “If everyone rigged it according to their specific preference, the person responsible for inspecting would find it difficult to set a base-line for what is and what is not acceptable in the rig.”
After palletizing the requested items, they surrounding the loads with EDM and secure them with straps, ensuring bundles land in the best possible condition once dropped from the aircraft.
When the bundles are dropped, the EDM absorbs impact, protecting the supplies from damage, Payne said.
If there aren’t any taskers, the Army Riggers train to remain proficient at quickly and efficiently packing bundles.
In fact, to ensure all deployed riggers remain proficient, the Army holds a Biannual Theater Aerial Deliver Training Symposium to identify trends, issues and short falls within the full spectrum of logistics, aircraft and infrastructure enabling aerial delivery throughout the CENTCOM AOR.
“This year, we are hosting the symposium,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane Hicks, the Army Riggers commander and Cleveland, Tenn., native. “The event ensures everyone is on the same page, and gives us an idea of where we are headed in the future.”
Army Riggers want to make sure they’re consistently meeting the needs of ground troops with the best possible product and they are frequently receiving praise for their bundles, he added.
“This airdrop was definitely one of the best we have had yet,” wrote a Navy Seal who’d received one of the bundles from the 861st QM CO Det. 1. “It was assembled in a completely different way … making it easy for us to recover.”
When ground forces are in need of supplies, they count on Army Riggers to rig it up and ship it out.
“The rigging mission has been referred to as ‘the most vital’ quartermaster mission available,” Payne said. “The supplies that are delivered go directly to frontline troops in areas where other means of transport are not easily accessible, providing mission essential items to forwards troops who might otherwise not receive what they need to keep the fight going.”
Date Posted:09.29.2013 06:16
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