AERIAL PORT OF DEBARKATION, Kuwait -- The 34th Combat Aviation Brigade received multiple CH-47 Chinook helicopters here in late February.
The Chinooks, part of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd General Support Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, out of Hunter Army Air Field, Georgia, joined the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade in support Operation Spartan Shield.
Soldiers, contractors, Aviation and Missile Command and Communications and Electronic Command logistics assistance representatives (LARS) were on hand during the initial unloading of Chinooks. The Chinooks flew in on C-5 Galaxy aircraft, a heavy lift strategic airlift plane, but not even the C-5 can carry a fully assembled Chinook. Maintenance team members spent a few days reassembling each aircraft before handing them over to test pilots.
The C-5 Galaxy is an Air Force asset. The Army and Air Force work together to bring equipment into theater.
Once assembled, the unit's maintenance test pilots ensure the air worthiness of the aircraft before they are flown to their final destination. AMCOM and CECOM LARs remain available during the operation to quickly address any maintenance issues that arise.
LARs are subject matter experts on specific types of aircraft or of certain systems of an aircraft. Their presence on site greatly reduces time spent troubleshooting or evaluating faults and damage.
"The role of a LAR at any unit is to support them with technical and logistical support," said Curtis Latta, an AMCOM LAR with the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade. "This includes finding and expediting parts throughout the supply system. We also advise and assist the unit with technical information they are not privy to through their normal explaining intent of procedures or IETMs. We work in the 'gray area' for depot repairs in the field and non-standard repairs that may be required to enable the unit to have operational aircraft. We are also the middle man between the unit, support engineers, program managers and original equipment manufacturers."
LARs and aviation maintainers from the 90th Aviation Support Battalion and 603rd ASB inspected the aircraft to see how well they traveled. Minor damage that is identified before the aircraft is fully assembled can be addressed during the process.
"Some of the discussion we had with Soldiers was the buildup requirements and differences between the CH-47F and CH-47D," said Latta. "We look into the parts requirements and problems with parts that did not make it with the aircraft. Our biggest concern is ensuring that the units have the tools, parts and knowledge to conduct their mission in the safest and most efficient way as possible."
After the Chinooks and accompanying Blackhawks are all fully assembled and flyable, they will join the 34th CAB mission here and throughout the region to support coalition forces during training partnerships and joint missions. The LARs will continue to assist the 34th CAB Soldiers throughout their mission.
"A majority of the LARs are prior service," said Latta. "We have family and friends that are still serving our country. There is nothing like working with Soldiers, and there is not a better job. This gives LARs the opportunity to continue serving alongside our Soldiers. We still have skin in the fight. When they ask for help, we do everything we can to ensure mission success."