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    C-130J Super Hercules crew forward deploys to Chile in support of Southern Star 2023

    C-130J transports first Chilean Humvee during Southern Star 23

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Clayton Wear | A C-130J Super Hercules loadmaster from the 39th Airlift Squadron out of the 317th...... read more read more

    SANTIAGO, Chile - Two C-130J Super Hercules from the 317th Airlift Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, TX., supported Special Operations Command South and the Chilean Army during exercise SOUTHERN STAR 23, from July 24 through Aug. 10, 2023, along the entire country of Chile.

    Exercise SOUTHERN STAR 23 is a Chilean-led full-scale Special Operations, Joint, and Combined Employment Exercise including training on tactical maneuvers, collaboration, and decision-making during crisis scenarios.
    During the exercise, pilots and maintainers from the 39th Airlift Squadron flew a Chilean Army Humvee in an Air Mobility Command C-130J for the first time, set up a mobile Tactical Operation Center, as well as led a Forward Area Refueling Point as a proof-of-concept.

    As one of several C-130J pilots working on exercise SOUTHERN STAR 23, Capt. Chris Galemore, a 39th Airlift Squadron pilot opened on the benefits of working with the Chilean Air Force.

    “Exercise SOUTHERN STAR has allowed us a unique opportunity to work with the Chilean Air Force, which also employs the C-130. We've been able to share TTPs that will enable both forces to work together to accomplish common goals. We have had the pleasure of having the Chileans fly with us on most of our Sorties so we can share stories and build lasting camaraderie.”

    While visiting his lead planners in Rancagua, Chile, Col. Thomas Lankford, 317th Airlift Wing commander mentioned the benefits gained through his squadron deploying in support of SS23 and the opportunity to develop a tailored force package.

    “This exercise is teaching them to look at a lot of different problem-sets that they normally don't think about”, said Lankford. “This exercise has allowed us to create a purpose-built maintenance package in order to show up in an expeditionary environment and start executing from day one.”

    Building upon the mobile strength presented by individual force packages, Lankford went on to mention a program developed at Dyess AFB, called LEAD, which creates multi-capable maintainers that are able to forward deploy with more specialty skills training.

    “The Lethal Expeditionary Airman Development, or LEAD, is where we take a bunch of maintainers and split them into two career tracks in order for them to learn each other's specialties. Additionally, we send many of them to small unit tactics training and some other secondary weapons training.”
    “We then send these maintainers to learn combat maintenance skills outside of their normal career fields. Through this education track, they also learn the bigger picture on how tasks roll down to each squadron.”

    Not only do maintenance teammates expand their job proficiency to work in an agile, expeditionary environment, Senior Airmen through Technical Sergeants also develop leadership skills that will aid in the development of the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Corps.

    “LEAD is also a leadership course where maintainers become multi-capable beyond job proficiency by giving briefings on maintenance topics. When they leave LEAD, they are able to go out and rapidly deploy to a combat environment and repair any aircraft with combat damage. They become a huge asset.”

    With the opportunity to test 317th Airlift Wing members, Lankford didn’t hesitate to send the 39th Airlift Squadron.

    “We are very good at deploying to a mature theater with mega bases built up with everything you need. So if you show up without stuff, somebody's got it. In a sense, I wanted [this exercise] to be tough because I need folks to see that there is a different way to deploy than they've ever done in their career. This exercise came at the perfect time because I ordered us to do another exercise in the future doing the same thing.”

    Lankford continued, “We also put some Humvees on a C-130J the other day and showed our Chilean partners that capability. By demonstrating that for them we were able to show them the value of a stretch C-130.”
    As one of the lead pilots flying the Humvees, Capt. Tyler Jones, 39th Airlift Wing pilot addressed several of the safety measures, requirements, and hurdles they had to overcome.

    “At the execution level, there were quite a few hurdles to pass to get this mission completed. The biggest issue is working jointly with a foreign nation to execute an airlift that included vehicles that are considered hazardous. This came with additional paperwork and inspections to ensure safety. Luckily, we had support from our American partners to get the cargo prepared and ready to go.”

    “There was also an opportunity to educate our Chilean partners on the U.S. airlift requirements which extended the amount of time it took to prepare the cargo but was an easy hurdle to bypass since both sides were ready and willing to get this mission done.”

    One of the primary duties of a U.S. Air Force loadmaster is to ensure the safe loading and unloading of the aircraft. Tech. Sgt. Stefan Eiermann, a 39th Airlift Squadron Loadmaster explains the duties of a loadmaster, especially while working in SOUTHERN STAR 23.

    “The overall job responsibilities of a loadmaster are to ensure safe loading and unloading of the aircraft as well as the security of the cargo in flight. The loadmaster conducts pre-flights for the aircraft to include exterior and initial powering on. We’re also responsible for the execution of airdrop missions including rigging of airdrop equipment as well as the actual airdrop. Airdrops cover equipment, personnel, and container loads to support combatant commanders across the globe.”

    Eiermann then explained the steps that his fellow teammates had to make in order to safely load the first Chilean Humvee on a C130J. “To prepare for a rolling stock cargo movement such as a HUMVEE, the loadmaster would check the weight and balance of the aircraft to ensure it’s positioned for safety of flight. The Loadmaster will check the weights of each axle and plan it so that it falls within the limits of our cargo compartment floor. They will also check for the overall condition of the vehicle, including gas and oil quantities and a shipper’s declaration of dangerous goods. This paperwork means that the cargo was inspected and prepared for airlift and has been certified safe for airlift.”

    A few days after transporting the Humvee, the 39th Airlift Squadron also provided a proof-ofconcept by transporting a Tactical Operations Center, or TOC. This provides tactical airlift squadrons the agility to rapidly depart a runway under attack, land elsewhere, and rapidly stand up a TOC to plan other flight routes.

    Galemore explains further, “Everything we set up today comprises what we're calling TOCIn-a-Box (Tactical Operations Center). It contains everything that's required to operate 1-4 aircraft in an austere environment. Being able to execute any mission, from any location, without a permanent C2 node, vastly increases our maneuverability and complicates any sort of enemy targeting solution.”

    “For the last 20+ years, we've deployed to built-up locations that already have all required support equipment and personnel. The next fight isn't going to have that luxury. TOC-In-a-Box allows us to land, set up a C2 node, complete with operations and maintenance equipment, and tear it all down again in a matter of a couple of hours.”

    Another proof of concept to increase maneuverability between AFSOC and AMC was in the form of a Forward Area Refueling Point.

    “FARP allows us to transfer fuel on the ground in austere locations from one aircraft to another without shutting off either of the aircraft’s engines,” said Senior Airman Benjamin Pasley, a 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron, 1 Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt, Fl. FARP technician.

    “FARP allows us to refuel aircraft virtually anywhere a C-130 can land. It is often used to establish a fueling point for helicopters or other small aircraft that cannot hold a lot of fuel. It would be great to see us continue to establish capabilities with our allied nations and learn from one another since everyone has a slightly different way of getting the job done.”
    Galemore then tied the FARP and TOC capability into the larger picture for Air Mobility Command.

    “The 317th AW is the first wing in AMC, if not the Air Force to train to and employ these tactics. It's one thing to practice something like this at our home base, but to successfully employ it in a foreign country shows the level at which we train in order to prepare for the next fight.”
    Lankford then closed with, “We’ve learned a lot of lessons being here. So this has been an absolutely fantastic exercise for us. The Chilean military forces are extremely professional and capable, and it's been a pleasure to work with them.”

    “If we can improve our partner capacity through this, that's a huge win for everybody. I really look forward to having their valuable partner in this region and I really look forward to working with them in the future to build each other's capabilities.”



    Date Taken: 08.21.2023
    Date Posted: 08.21.2023 07:52
    Story ID: 451755
    Location: US

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