GRAFENWOEHR Germany -- Soldiers with the Field Support Company of the 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division participated in a sling load operation on a range at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, July 30, 2019.
The Soldiers rigged and hoisted a Humvee from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Sling load operations are used as a method of transporting supplies and vehicles via aircraft when ground transportation is not an option.
Soldiers, primarily with the distribution platoon within the company, started with classroom instruction on how to properly rig a sling on equipment in preparation for aerial transport. During the field exercise the following day, with the help of a CH-47 Chinook flight crew with the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, the Soldiers received hands on training on how to rig a Humvee with a sling for transport by aircraft. The helicopter then hoisted the Humvee simulating real-world transport.
"This kind of equipment transport is done in areas of operation where the area is too hostile or has too many mountains for us to take the equipment to the front lines by ground transport," said Staff Sgt. Carlos Robles, the Distribution Platoon Sergeant, FSC, 1st Eng. Bat.
Hands on training such as sling load operations are essential to the readiness of the support company. In a real-world scenario, being able to conduct sling load operations on a vehicle or equipment would be a necessity should ground transportation be considered too dangerous or impossible.
"Ground resupply isn't always an option based on whatever the circumstances may be," said Cpt. Jerry Pittman, the S4 officer for the 1st Eng. Bat.. "It really broadens the scope of resupply and logistics when we can incorporate both ground and aerial operations."
The opportunity to train with a helicopter element and the ability to see the process first hand is a unique experience for the Soldiers and valuable training that contributes to their readiness as a company and the readiness of the battalion as a whole.
"We don't do this often, so it is definitely a good experience to have," said Robles. "Especially for the new Soldiers that have never been around an aircraft or have never hooked up to the aircraft with all the equipment that the sling load has."
"I would say that the distribution platoon itself is much more lethal," said Pittman. "They are much more capable. They'll continue to train and continue to perfect their craft and that will improve their lethality."
"For the brigade at a whole, logistics and resupply is so much a part of the big picture," said Pittman. "It is absolutely crucial that the maneuver units are being supported and this will definitely streamline that process of resupply and logistics. Being able to maneuver a brigade on the battlefield, half the fight is sustainment."
At the conclusion of the training exercise, the Soldiers were given the opportunity to ride in the helicopter and experience the capabilities of the aircraft from the passenger seats.