By Sgt. 1st Class Luis Saavedra, Task Force Muleskinner PAO September 10, 2012
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Sept. 10, 2012) -- The 10th Sustainment Brigade conducted the first aerial delivery mission near the Salang tunnel, Afghanistan, Aug. 26, proving aerial resupply is possible almost anywhere in Afghanistan.
At more than 11,000 feet, the tunnel is one of the highest navigable points in Afghanistan. Avalanches have blocked the tunnel in the past, delaying much-needed supplies from reaching their destination, but 10th Sustainment Brigade can resupply any Soldiers in the region using aerial delivery assets routinely or in emergency circumstances.
A low-cost, low-altitude parachute drop was used, employing a DCH-4 Caribou aircraft to conduct the first mission. The aircraft was so low to the ground it seemed as if it was going to land on the mountain switchbacks. Once it reached the drop zone, it shot up into the air, dropping six parachute bundles that glided to the ground.
"It proves we can resupply Soldiers just about anywhere in Afghanistan," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jose Seguinot, aerial delivery officer assigned to 10th Sustainment Brigade. "Being able to resupply Soldiers anywhere at short notice can mean the difference between mission accomplishment and mission failure."
The second delivery consisted of a CH-46 helicopter using long line position placement to deliver supplies near the south entrance to the tunnel.
Air drops provide the means to distribute vital equipment and supplies to Soldiers in isolated locations with rough terrain and inadequate delivery routes. The use of air drops, as opposed to resupplying by way of ground transportation, can reduce the risk of roadside bombs and add to the Army's flexibility on the battlefield.
"Wherever there is a Soldier in need of supplies to get the job done, there is a 10th Sustainment Brigade Soldier ensuring he gets what he needs as soon as possible," said Seguinot.
The brigade has conducted more than 1,200 aerial delivery missions during its 12-month tour in Afghanistan. With more than 30 forward operating bases supported in Regional Commands East, North and Capital, it is crucial to use every asset available to resupply Soldiers on the battlefield.
"Travel down a road, and you're very predictable," Seguinot said. "You're only going one of two directions. That makes it very easy for our enemy to set up [improvised explosive devices] or ambushes. That is why the airdrops are such a key part of all of the operations in Afghanistan."
The tunnel connects northern Afghanistan and Kabul Province with traffic that can exceed more than 10,000 vehicles a day. The tunnel is important to both military and civilian personnel, as they not only use it to commute but to resupply the separate regions of Afghanistan.
"Eastern Afghanistan has the most rugged and austere terrain in the world in which we currently have U.S. forces deployed," said Col. Kurt J. Ryan, 10th Sustainment Brigade commander. "Our resupply mission is uniquely suited to innovative aerial delivery techniques.
The brigade will ensure our fighting forces have everything they need; that's my solemn promise."