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    86th IBCT (MTN) Adopts airbeam inflatable shelters



    Story by 2nd Lt. Nathan Rivard 

    172nd Public Affairs Detachment

    A spacious and airy home away from home for U.S. service members is where our story begins. Soldiers who drill with Headquarters, Headquarters
    Company, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), have a couple of new airbeam shelters which they recently practiced inflating in their own

    The Vermont Army National Guard is incorporating mobile, inflatable
    tents for their ease-of-use and rapid deployment in field operations that
    require structural cover. Leaders of the 86th IBCT (MTN) added inflatable
    airbeam structures to their own inventories after seeing them in use at 10th
    Mountain Division Warfighter Exercises.

    Col. Nathan Lord, commander of the 86th IBCT (MTN), says that the
    brigade's older shelter systems have reached the end of their lifecycle.

    "This is all about making an effort to modernize and improve our mobility
    and survivability." Lord also says that these shelter systems are the next
    evolution of the brigade's tents.

    Soldiers who drill at HHC, recently unboxed one of their new airbeam
    shelters at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho. Few on the team
    have first-hand experience with the tent system, but appear eager to see how it works.

    Cpt. Thomas Malinowski, the brigade's finance officer, says that older
    tents demanded a greater number of people to set up.

    "I don't have any experience with these new shelters, but older tents
    required quite a bit of fitness, tallness and equipment to set-up safely."

    Soldiers unroll the tent, stake the guy-lines and set up the air
    compressor. They emplace an electricity generator and attach all the
    connectors. The air flow starts and Soldiers reposition the rising columns
    as necessary. Inflation of the structure takes roughly 15 minutes.

    Sgt. Jeremy Breckenridge, who participated in the brigade's recent
    Joint Service Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, Louisiana, already sees
    how airbeam might have advantages over the older systems he wrangled down south, "Theoretically, just a couple of people could set this tent up."

    Breckenridge had worries about punctures with the tents, but those were
    quickly quelled.

    Sgt. First Class Eric Kilburn, acting first sergeant of HHC 86th IBCT
    (MTN), says that airbeam are designed to withstand collapse if punctured
    while inflated.

    "It can get shot, but there are adjustment features that section off the air
    so that the whole thing won't come down."

    Combat isn't just about fighting enemy, it's also about conserving and
    parsing resources wisely.

    Back at headquarters, during lunch, Soldiers discuss what they think about
    their new airbeam. The conversation banks mostly around the savings in time and manpower that such tents might afford.

    There is consensus that all the right pieces must be in place for the system
    to work. Some at table think airbeam could make the experience of setting up command posts while dressed in chemical protection gear a lot easier. One Soldier slips into a thousand-mile stare remembering just how well chemical protection gear, combined with physical labor, uniquely strains the human body.

    "We hit the ground, we get the tents set up quicker, with less manpower
    which frees others to bring in the tables, chairs and computers," Kilburn

    Tactical operations centers, or TOCs, are the life blood of the
    brigade. They are an overall necessity for the S2 who collect and analyze
    intelligence, for the fires planning team, and for the S3 who track units on
    the battlefield. These teams all use sensitive computers and communications systems that are better off sheltered from environmental hazards.

    He estimates that his Soldiers can inflate an airbeam in less than an
    hour. Only the TOC's complexity of configuration and environmental factors
    will increase set up times. Kilburn also says that faster set ups will allow
    TOC personnel to grasp the battlespace earlier in the fight.

    "We definitely ran into a few snags early on," Kilburn says referencing
    the short period of time when Soldiers could not find certain parts tucked
    inside pouches of the tent's transport covers. Determined members of the
    detail had scavenged for the exact, alternate parts needed to bridge the

    Discussions about the unit's future with inflatable shelters are now
    underway, "We're already thinking of ways to improve our tent layouts and
    rethink what our TOC is and isn't," says Kilburn.



    Date Taken: 08.16.2019
    Date Posted: 09.26.2019 16:21
    Story ID: 336242

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