FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Six Soldiers from the 27th Engineer Battalion's 161st Engineering Support Company are supporting airdrop certification testing of the Airfield Damage Repair Kit (ADR) scheduled June through September.

The Army's airborne engineer units are the only units capable of airdropping the kits during forcible entry operations.

The new rapidly deployable ADR kit greatly improves the deliverability and operational effectiveness of the Army's Global Response Force in support of Airborne forcible entry operations.

Capt. Elizabeth Betterbed, company commander, explained, "The 161st Engineer Support Company is the only unit within the XVIII Airborne Corps with this unique mission in support of the Army's Global Response Force."

Staff Sgt. Hugo Rodriguez, section leader, said, "I learned the process of coordinating with riggers and civilian personnel to plan heavy drop operational testing and the steps of how to build the Forward Area Supply Box (FASBOX) from the ground up."

During testing, Soldiers participate in rigging of the ADR Kit for airdrop and recovery to ensure the system is fully operational after each of the three required airdrops.

Spec. Daniel Braun, heavy equipment operator, said, "I got to learn new things and in return, I get to share my knowledge with new Soldiers."

"Operational Testing is about Soldiers," said Col. Brad Mock, director of the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate. "It is about making sure that the systems developed are effective in a Soldier's hands and suitable for the environments that Soldiers train and fight in."

"Operational testing is our opportunity to contribute to readiness; anything less compromises the Army's ability to provide the forces that fight and win the Nation's wars," said Lt. Col. Gregory Oquendo, Chief of ABNSOTD's test division.

The Airfield Damage Repair Kit will be used for repairing damaged airfields to prevent ingestion of foreign objects and debris into jet engines of aircraft, mitigating risk to both aircraft and personnel.

"By participating in the test, it will help provide the Army better knowledge and information for future airborne operations," said Pfc. Colten Perritte, a horizontal construction engineer.

"Any time Soldiers and their leaders get involved in operational testing, they have the opportunity to use, work with, and offer up their own suggestions on pieces of equipment that can impact development of systems that future Soldiers will use in combat," said Mike Tracy, branch chief at ABNSOTD.

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About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:

The U.S. Army Operational Test Command is based at West Fort Hood, Texas and its mission is about ensuring that systems developed are effective in a Soldier's hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight. Test units and their Soldiers offer their feedback, which influences the future by offering input to improve upon existing and future systems that Soldiers will ultimately use to train and fight with.

The Fort Bragg, N.C.-based Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate plans, executes, and reports on operational tests and field experiments of Airborne and Special Operations Forces equipment, procedures, aerial delivery and air transportation systems in order to provide key operational data for the continued development and fielding of doctrine, systems or equipment to the Warfighter.