U.S. Army Africa and 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s 5th Quartermaster Detachment jointly conducted an aerial delivery familiarization event Nov. 5 to 8 on Rhine Ordnance Barracks with U.S., African and Italian soldiers. The purpose of the familiarization was to refine and rehearse aerial delivery tactics, techniques and procedures to be applied during two major upcoming exercises — Central Accord 13 and Flintlock 13.
African partnership nations participating in the event were Cameroon and Mauritania. There were representatives from the Italian Army as well as U.S. Soldiers from 824th Quartermaster Company, 10th Special Forces Group, 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade and 11th Aviation Brigade. “I think this familiarization is a great opportunity, because it allows us to associate soldiers from partnership nations with low-cost, low-altitude delivery system prior to the exercise, which makes things easier. It’s also good to meet with some of the soldiers we will be working side-by-side with during the exercise and build a relationship with them,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Orlando Velez, an airdrop assistant technician for 5th QM aerial delivery section.
“This familiarization is important, because instead of 5th QM showing up in Africa during the exercise and taking two weeks to familiarize 50 soldiers about LCLA, they had the opportunity to familiarize a handful of Soldiers who now can take what they’ve learned back and teach their people prior to the exercise,” said Walter L. Murrell, an exercise planner for USARAF. During the four-day event, 5th QMs introduced partnership nation soldiers to the LCLA delivery system. They, along with U.S. Soldiers, were subsequently introduced to the free-drop-delivery system.
The Low-Cost Aerial Delivery System is a suite of expendable parachute and container air items designed to be a low-cost alternative to older aerial delivery equipment. The system can be used for either low-velocity (descent rate of 28.5 feet per second or less) or high-velocity (descent rate of 50-90 feet per second) airdrop of all classes of supply from typical container delivery system altitudes and payloads. LCLA parachutes are a specialized subset of LCADS and have the same low-cost, expendable attributes. They are uniquely suited to support Soldiers operating in harsh, austere locations, such as the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. LCLA capabilities are designed for delivering payloads between 80 and 1,000 pounds at altitudes below 500 feet above ground level. LCLA is a one-time use system. The FDS is one facet of LCLA aerial resupply that requires no parachute. Instead, FDS is an innovative packaging system whereby supplies can be free dropped at low altitudes.
According to Murrell, learning the low-cost process of getting supplies to soldiers engaged in operations is very important to partnership nations. “This familiarization is specifically good for our special forces, said Cpt. Adgnau Babe, a soldier with the Mauritanian army. “We like the material we were introduced to, because it’s new and efficient, and it’s a good way to deliver assistance to our soldiers.” “I am glad we had the opportunity to learn about this new system, and now I will take what I have learned back to my superiors and tell them how much this could help us in our future operations,” said Sgt. Maj. Roberto Bose, an Italian special forces soldier. Participants also received a small portion of pathfinder training and were allowed to apply what they learned about aerial delivery systems as they set it up and broke it down several times. Towards the end of the familiarization, partnership soldiers prepared and assembled four LCLA system bundles and on the final day, they watched exactly how the systems worked as it was dropped from a C-130 Hercules. “This whole experience for me was fantastic, because I feel like I’ve learned so much in so little time,” said Adjutant Chief Nagi Linegih El-Mamy, a soldier with the Mauritanian army. “It was also good to see the professionalism of the U.S. Soldiers and see a well trained Army that is really proud of the job they do.” Murrell said, based off feedback from after-action reviews completed by Soldiers who participated in previous familiarization events, USARAF determined this familiarization event was essential to the success of the upcoming Central Accord 13 and Flintlock 13 aerial exercises. “The intent of this entire event is for partner nations to carry forward with the knowledge they learned and go back and train their Soldiers,” Murrell said.
“I have no doubt in my mind that what we’ve learned over these past few days can greatly help us make things easier for future missions, and I will definitely ensure I pass what I have learned to my fellow soldiers as we prepare for exercise Flintlock 13,” El-Mamy said.