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Spc. Oscar N. Ruiz, a 647th Quartermaster Rigger Detachment parachute rigger from Miami, Fla., prepares fuel barrels for aerial deliver to remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan.

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The mountainous Afghan terrain makes it difficult for convoys to travel to many remote forward operating bases throughout the country to provide needed supplies to troops. Coalition forces have only one other option for transporting supplies, aerial deliveries.

Soldiers of the 647th Quartermaster Rigger Detachment prepare items for delivery to troops in Southern Afghanistan.

"I enjoy being able to help out as much as possible and getting things out to people that don't have it," said Spc. Shane F. Standaert, a 647th QM Rigger Det. parachute rigger from Muscatine, Iowa.

The increase in the number of troops in Afghanistan has demanded more from parachute riggers as they help supply the frontline Soldier. The 647th QM Rigger Det. helps supply Soldiers with food, water, ammunition, clothing and building material, but it is not limited to only these supplies. Its Soldiers have helped dropped more than 6.5 million pounds of supplies.

The parachute riggers use three different methods in their efforts in providing equipment and supplies to troops.

The most commonly-used method is the Containerized Delivery System. It starts with the parachute riggers constructing skid boards, which are one-inch plywood with an energy-dissipating material, and honeycomb cardboard, glued to the skid board. The purpose of the honeycomb cardboard is to ensure nothing is damaged during delivery. The supplies are centered and secured on the skid board. The parachute is then placed on top.

There are three standard skid board sizes that the 647th QM Rigger Det. Soldiers use. They are 48 inches by 48 inches, 48 inches by 72 inches or 48 inches by 96 inches. Each skid board with a load can weigh 500 to 2,200 pounds.

"Some of the challenges we face are equipment and aircrafts always changing, but other than that the same basic [rigging] principles still apply," said Sgt. 1st Class Frank Lyons Jr., a 647th QM Rigger Det. platoon sergeant from New Orleans, La.

A new method of air dropping supplies at low elevation is the Low Cost Low Altitude Aerial Resupply. The advantage of using this method is parachute riggers will be able to send shipments weighing 30 to 500 lbs and delivering shipments from 100 to 200 feet of altitude with fast-opening parachutes. Loads can be air dropped from commercial or military aircraft.

"We can delivery anything you can imagine," said Spc. Oscar N. Ruiz, a 647th QM Rigger Det. parachute rigger from Miami, Fla.

The riggers are capable of sling loading large equipment such as tactical vehicles and generators to a CH-47 Chinook for deliver.

The riggers can have supplies ready for air delivery for CDS or LCLA aerial resupply in as little as 12 hours. Sling loading equipment can be done in a little under an hour. The riggers transport all materials to the airfield to be inspected and loaded on an aircraft. Some aircrafts can fit up to 40 bundles.

"[A parachute rigger is] a critical job in my eyes to the Army for people who have difficulty getting supplies in the hard to reach areas, FOBs," said Spc. Noel R. Phelps, a 647th QM Rigger Det. parachute rigger from Woodhaven, Mich.

Aerial deliveries are essential in providing the war fighter with the equipment he needs when he needs it.

Page last updated Thu November 5th, 2009 at 05:07