News: Army, AF train for joint contingencies
By Senior Airman Lausanne Genuino
97th Air Mobility Wing
ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. - Airmen from the 97th Operations Support Squadron and soldiers from the 1st Battalion (Attack), 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade based out of Fort Carson, Colo. conducted joint training here Nov. 13 - 14.
Airmen from the 97th Operations Support Squadron and soldiers from the 1st Battalion (Attack), 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade based out of Fort Carson, Colo. conducted joint training here Nov. 13 - 14.
The training focused on the ability to prepare and load an AH-64 Apache helicopter onto a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft.
Initially struggling with operational demands and budget restraints, Soldiers were finally able to come to Altus AFB with the help of U.S. Air force Tech. Sgt. Nate Griesinger, who liaised between the two services.
"Since we're here at the formal training unit, we don’t get a chance to see real world equipment like this very often," said Griesinger, a C-17 loadmaster instructor for the 97th. "It's an added bonus for my own proficiency to be able to load cargo that we don't usually see at Altus."
When it's time to deploy, their crew will be responsible for loading the Apaches on the C-17, and that's why this training is so important, added Griesinger.
The unit varies in age and experiences, allowing a wide range of expertise to be shared. It's not common that these soldiers are able to do this training with an actual C-17.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Waylon Kepa has been working on Apaches for ten years but this is the first time these group of soldiers have been able to conduct training like they would in a real scenario.
"It's good to be here finally," said Kepa. "Training like this is important because we need to know how to be able to load the aircraft as fast and as safe as possible. I have faith in the guys and this training."
The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or deployed locations. A total of three Apaches can be loaded onto a C-17, depending on how they are configured in the aircraft allowing more helicopters to be deployed at one time.
The opportunity to train was well worth it for the 26 who traveled more than 500 miles to Altus.
"This unit will be more advanced than most of the Apache units in the Army … I think they'll be one of the elite especially being able to come to Altus [to train]," said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Justin Hood.