News: ‘Maintainer’ sling load skills are checked, re-checked and checked again
Story by Spc. Sarah Bailey
FORT STEWART, Ga. – ‘Maintainers’ from A Company, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, performed their first sling load training mission during Vanguard Focus at Camp Oliver, Sept. 19.
Sling load missions involve moving large items by air. It requires a number of safety measures to be made in a timely and efficient manner. “Check, re-check, and check again” is one of Lt. Col. Nathan Swartz’s, the 703rd BSB commander, four main principles of command guidance.
This concept played a major role in Alpha Company’s sling load operations. Spc. Jonathan Helton of Kenosha, WI understands the importance, “The best way [to check], is to touch everything.” By doing so, soldiers are able to ensure every strap is secured prior to lifting and moving the cargo by air support.
During the mission, 12 soldiers transported a 2,000 gallon water container, two 500 gallon water blivets, and a container by sling loading the equipment to a CH-47 Chinook courtesy of the Georgia National Guard. The soldiers involved have a combination of air assault and sling load inspection certification course experience, which is crucial to sling load operations.
1st Lt. Ryan Murphy of Fairhaven, N.J., and the officer in charge was satisfied with the outcome, “The main goal was to get the soldiers confident with sling loading.”
Murphy understands that sling load transportation will be the primary means of moving supplies over mountainous terrain like that found in Afghanistan. This training provided familiarization and will help the company prepare for the brigade’s rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.