By Sgt. Shiloh CapersJune 13, 2017
LIELVARDE AIR BASE, Latvia - U.S. Airmen from 435th Contingency Response Group, from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany jump from a CH-47 Chinook, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, June 10.
The unit is at Lielvarde for Exercise Saber Strike. Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Baltic region. The exercise tests the capability of multiple nations to act against a threat.
The 435th CRG is a team of various Air Force occupations that arrive on site and set up a bare base. A bare base is defined as a base with minimum essential facilities to house, sustain and support operations. An established airfield or runway is necessary for following forces.
While at Lielvarde, the 435th is capitalizing on training opportunities to work with their army brethren and jump out of a CH-47 said Capt. Christopher James Thomsen acting contingency response element commander, 435th Contingency Response Group, 435th Air Group Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
The CH-47 was crewed by Soldiers from 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York.
"This is something that is beneficial for both the Air Force and the Army, them getting to work with us and us getting to work with them," Thomsen said. "The procedures are different but that joint integration is really what enables us as a global force."
The Airmen jumped out of the CH-47 at an elevation of 2,500 feet, which was new, said Maj. John Sullivan, commander, 435th Security Forces Squadron, 435th Contingency Response Group, 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
"Normally, airdrops are completed with full combat equipment and between 1,000 to 1,500 feet," Sullivan stated. "The lower altitude is preferred so the 435 CRG can get on the ground faster to establish security and set up equipment, which is a priority to 435th CRG's mission to enable flight operations."
Since the jump was at a higher elevation, the Airmen had more time to control the parachutes and experiment with toggle control. The Airmen also had more freedom in picking their landing area, which brought more joy to the experience, Sullivan observed.
Most personnel on Lielvarde were trained and received qualifications by the 435th CRG. The 435th CRG specializes as the base's air adviser capability and air tower personnel.
Training in locations beyond the assigned post or base renews partnerships making it easier to connect with Latvian forces, Thomsen said. The level of integration between (us) is the result of effort and trust.