By Mr. Mark Heeter (IMCOM)October 13, 2009
SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- Grabbing straps. Tugging strings. Checking chain links.
Thirty-eight Soldiers from across U.S. Army Europe trained to become certified sling load inspectors, responsible for inspecting cargo lifted and transported via helicopter, at Camp Robertson training area near U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt Oct. 5-9.
"(The helicopter) is our main, prime mover of equipment in Afghanistan," said Sgt. 1st Class William Baker, the leader of the four-man mobile training team (MTT) from the Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, Va., who conducted the training in cooperation with the 21st Theater Sustainment Command.
"These units are rotating back knowing that they have to have this tool in order to get their equipment safely from Point A to Point B, because of the mountainous terrain (in Afghanistan)," Baker said.
While many of the students were assigned to the 21st TSC, Soldiers from Schweinfurt, Hohenfels, Bamberg, and Vicenza, Italy, were among the candidates aiming for certification.
"With 21st TSC being a sustainment command, all the tools . . . about sling load and air assault training, it assists us as well, providing support to the units that actually on the ground, fighting in Afghanistan," said Master Sgt. Anthony Young, who, as a member of 21st TSC operations, helped select the training location and provide logistical support throughout the 40-hour course.
"We also have to be able to provide them with equipment, supplies. We have to be able to get it to their locations, which would involve sling loading," Young said.
Throughout the week, the MTT taught basic loading principles and evaluated both written and hands-on tests for the Soldiers, who came to the course from a variety of military occupational specialties.
"The whole purpose of sending us out here is to get hopefully at least one person certified at each (forward operating base) that we go to," said Sgt. Matthew Clark, an infantryman who has deployed once with the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, in Hohenfels.
"Make sure you put your hands on the equipment, instead of just looking at and saying, 'Hey, it's good,'" Clark said, when asked what advice he would give to Soldiers who want to become certified sling loaders.
The students were trained and tested on inspecting loads of water containers, cargo bags, five- and 10,000-pound cargo nets, and Humvees.
Working with Soldiers from different jobs and units added to the value of the course, according to Spc. John Herold, 5th Quartermaster Company, 21st TSC, who has been a parachute rigger for three years.
"I've always found it fascinating, because not only do you get to do training with other Soldiers, you get to expand your knowledge," Herold said.
"You get the knowledge of, 'Wow, it takes everybody to make the whole Army,' rather than one just thinking they're the best,'" he said.