News: Dragon Battalion conducts airborne mission
Story by Sgt. John Couffer
FORT HOOD, Texas – Guided by wind currents and suspended by parachutes; bundles of ammunition, food, fuel and water descend on their designated targets.
Soldiers of the 1st “Dragon” Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st “Ironhorse Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division conducted a low-cost, low-altitude aerial resupply mission July 16 to 18, here.
This marks the first time in Ironhorse history that such an exercise was conducted.
This mission is groundbreaking for the brigade,” said Monroe, La., native, 2nd Lt. Dexter Harris, a Quarter Master Corps officer assigned to Forward Support Company G attached to the Dragon Battalion, who aided in planning the event.
Harris explained the main purpose of LCLA is to expediently resupply troops on the ground when other methods endanger soldiers’ lives, are not feasible or are too costly.
“The system is relatively cheap and saves the Army time, money and lives,” Harris explained. “Anything we can do to save soldiers’ lives will be the best option.”
In conducting this event, the Dragon Battalion is writing the standard operating procedures necessary so any unit in the brigade can conduct an LCLA.
“Not only is it the first time being done,” Harris said. “But it’s laying the foundation for everyone in the brigade … whether we deploy to Afghanistan, any other indigenous nations or (the National Training Center).”
Coordination for training was done via Ironhorse air mobility liaison officers, the Air Force and their drop zone instructors at Fort Hood.
Harris explained that during training, the Air Force used a Hercules cargo aircraft to better aid in hands-on training instruction but during the actual event Army Chinook cargo helicopters were used.
The Air Force DZIs taught FSC G soldiers how to secure and run a drop zone, stage orange panels that mark the drop zone and how to recover the supplies.
Dropping cargo is not something the Ironhorse Brigade normally does.
“This brigade does not ordinarily (conduct) this type of mission,” said Orangeburg, S.C. native, Capt. Quentin Benjamin, commander of FSC G.
He added special operations, air assault and airborne units normally perform these tasks.
“Conducting LCLA operations broadens the capabilities of the brigade,” Benjamin said. “It gives (the Ironhorse) brigade another asset of getting supplies to its soldiers.”
The whole point of the training is so FSC G can resupply fellow 1-82 FA with anything at anytime over any terrain, all while keeping fellow Soldiers out of harm’s way, Benjamin said.
The training certified FSC G on LCLA functions and procedures, for instance, one soldier certified as a “lead” soldier.
Watsonville, Calif. native, Spc. Pedro Duarte, petroleum supply specialist assigned to the Dragon Battalion, who took part in the event, explained that a “lead” soldier is one of two soldiers on either side of supply bundles in an aircraft who are in constant communication with the pilots and who push the bundle out when the red light turns green. The lights indicate to Soldiers when the aircraft is over its designated drop area and is ready to drop its cargo.
Duarte said being chosen to conduct LCLA training was a privilege and he feels the training prepared him to perform the task in the future.
“When we deploy, this training will benefit us, our company and our battalion,” said Duarte. “If they need us, we’ll be ready.”