GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Soldiers from the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Signal Brigade, "Brigade of Excellence", conducted sling load and air operations training with the help of two CH-47 Chinook Helicopters from Hotel Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, "Big Windy", here, Mar. 22-23, at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany.

During the two-day exercise the Signal Soldiers from 44th ESB sling loaded two HWWMV's, a Satellite Transportable Terminal (STT) and a 10,000-pound generator, in a single, dual and tandem load configuration, to establish a dynamic presence.

"We're replicating moving a network command post node from one location to the other by using air mobile operations from 12th CAB," said Col. Ed Buck, Commander, 2nd Signal Brigade.

As part of the five pillars of a Strong Europe, the 44th's goal was to enhance their tactical posture by empowering junior leaders to conduct an alerted Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise (EDRE).

"Sling load operations allow us the ability to move our assemblage's quickly from any environment at any time," said Sgt. Maj. Elisio Torres, S-3 operations sergeant major, 44th ESB.

Sling load operations include the transport of cargo under a helicopter like the CH-47 Chinook or UH-60 Blackhawk. The STT is a transportable earth terminal designed to establish secure voice, video and data communications.

According to Maj. Lauren Bell, S-3 operations officer, 44th ESB, this was a historic event for the unit. This was the first time that the 44th ESB has conducted a sling load operation. "It was an excellent opportunity for our Soldiers," said Bell. "Not only did it test our ability to be expeditionary but it also gave them an opportunity to do training that they've never done before."

The 44th ESB is the premiere tactical Signal Battalion in Europe. On order, the 44th ESB Builds, Operates and Defends Mission Command Systems and Networks in order to support Unified Land Operations.

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The 12th Combat Aviation Brigade trains and conducts aviation support across the full spectrum of unified land operations for United States Army Europe, European Command, NATO, and in support of CENTCOM, AFRICOM and other contingency locations around the globe.