Reporting Status: normal
Wet bulb heat category: White as of 7/29/2014 10:10 AM
Fire danger rating: Green as of 5/12/2014 07:27 AM

The Mountaineer Online



Low-altitude drops cut costs, keep Soldiers safe


(Photo by Spc. Mark VanGerpen)<br>Four vehicle tires drop to the runway after being air-delivered this month to Forward Operating Base Ghazni. Low-cost, low-altitude air drops began at the base in late May, replacing ground convoys as the primary delivery method to Ghazni. Support by air rather than ground increases efficiency and helps keep Soldiers off roads and out of harm’s way. <br>
(Photo by Spc. Mark VanGerpen)
Four vehicle tires drop to the runway after being air-delivered this month to Forward Operating Base Ghazni. Low-cost, low-altitude air drops began at the base in late May, replacing ground convoys as the primary delivery method to Ghazni. Support by air rather than ground increases efficiency and helps keep Soldiers off roads and out of harm’s way.

Spc. Mark VanGerpen

129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghani-stan – The plane came in low – no more than 100 feet off the runway.
As it approached, the back hatch opened, and the plane launched into a steep climb. Four crates with parachutes tumbled out the back and then gently floated to the ground, where they were collected by a crew of six Soldiers.
The whole operation took only seconds, but it not only saved hours of work, it possibly protected Soldiers’ lives.
The low-cost, low-altitude drop is a relatively new practice at Forward Operating Base Ghazni.
Since late May, planes have been delivering all kinds of supplies to the base in order to cut costs and keep ground-based convoys off the road and out of harm’s way.
Sgt. Shane Jones, heavy wheeled vehicle operator, A Company, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, Cross Functional Team Warrior, is responsible for guiding the flights in for the drops. To him, the benefits of air-delivered supplies are clear.
“It saves lives,” he said. “It takes Soldiers off the road.”
When supplies have to be delivered by land, convoys of Soldiers run the risk of hitting roadside bombs, rolling vehicles and are battling fatigue during the 12- to 13-hour drive from Bagram Airfield to Ghazni.
“It doesn’t matter who goes out, someone’s getting hit every day,” Jones said.
Delivering supplies by air cuts those risks out of the equation, he added.
Organizing air deliveries is also faster and more efficient than convoy deliveries, said 2nd Lt. Dan Szilagyi, a helicopter landing zone platoon leader with A Company, 10th BSB. Whereas a full convoy mission can take days, air deliveries can be ready within six hours, and they can fly to Ghazni every day.
Another benefit to using cargo planes instead of helicopter sling-load deliveries is that planes can deliver more than twice the amount of goods and equipment, he added.
“It’s more efficient and quicker (than helicopter delivery),” Szilagyi said. “A sling load can only carry two crates. The plane can carry five.”
Guiding the planes to the runway was not Jones’ primary job when he deployed.
However, because Jones is one of only a handful of qualified pathfinders in his company, his command appointed him to the job – one he’s happy to do if it helps keep convoys off the road, he said.
“I was happy they tapped me on the shoulder to do it,” Jones said. “I’m proud to support any way I can.”





The Mountaineer



Archive

Year:
 




Public Affairs Office
Attn: Fort Drum Mountaineer
10012 South Riva Ridge Loop
Fort Drum NY 13602-5028
Email: drum.pao@conus.army.mil
 
 
This Army Civilian Enterprise Newspaper is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army. Contents of the Fort Drum Mountaineer Online are not necessarily the official news of, or endorsed by, the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, Department of the Army, or Fort Drum.