By Sgt. Susan Wilt, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. PAONovember 24, 2008
FORT BRAGG, N.C- Being the nation's Global Response Force means being ready to deploy anywhere at a moments notice. For a support battalion, it includes knowing how to get supplies to Soldiers on the front lines regardless of the terrain they're in.
With the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division gearing up to become the Army's GRF in June, the brigade's 407th Support Battalion held a Field Training Exercise from Nov. 14- Nov. 20 to help prepare them for their role in any future missions.
"Whatever the nation's call and the requirements are to support the brigade combat team, we'll be ready," said Lt. Col. Matthew P. Shatzkin, the battalion commander.
During the FTX, the 407th Paratroopers learned how to integrate helicopters into their supply efforts to provide better combat support to the brigade.
The 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade provided helicopters and pilots for the 407th "Gold Falcons," to train with for the exercise.
One of the areas they trained on was using helicopters as security during convoy operations. As the vehicles rolled along, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters circled overhead, keeping an eye out for potential danger and relaying information to the convoy commander below.
"We did what is known as air land training, so the convoy commander can get used to speaking with the helicopter pilots," said Capt. Bill Lord, the 407th BSB assistant plans officer.
The Gold Falcons also learned how to work with the aviators who were flying UH-60 Apache Blackhawk helicopters to deliver supplies to areas where ground convoys can't reach.
The Paratroopers learned how to use arm signals to help guide the pilots over an object, so two other Gold Falcons could attach an object to the bottom of the helicopter. For the FTX scenario the Soldiers attached a humvee.
This method is a quick way to deliver supplies, Shatzkin explained. The pilots are able to bring the object into the tough terrain and release it.
Spc. Junior Demezil, a Haiti native who participated in the training, had fun learning how to guide the helicopter. He also mentioned that because of the leadership the training wasn't as hard as he thought it'd be.
"All the training has been great. We've had good leadership to direct us," said Demezil, a Paratrooper from Company C, 407th BSB.
The Gold Falcons also learned another quick way to deliver supplies known as "Speedballing." The method involves tossing equipment out of a hovering Blackhawk from 20 feet up. During the training, duffle bags were used to simulate delivering supplies, like food, water, and ammunition, to a line unit.
"In a combat situation where there are no roads or it's hard to get to and you have a unit that needs a days worth of supplies, speedballs are the quickest way to get the supplies to them," said Lord, a Foxville, Mass., native.
Even though the training with the aviators only lasted a few days of the FTX, the Paratroopers noticed big improvements in their skills.
"There's been an absolute change," said Lord. "The battalion's has come together and they've refined their method everyday since they've been out there."