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Soldiers, Airmen exercise partnership at Fort Riley

By Andy Massanet | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | July 26, 2017

    “The U.S. military’s strategic advantage is, in part, its ability to overcome the logistics difficulties inherent in projecting forces forward … The joint force is better served and, more importantly, more ready when the Army can synchronize force projection to deploy our forces effectively, efficiently, and quickly.” — Gen. Gustave “Gus” Perna, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command

     A joint mobility exercise June 10 through 13 involving Soldiers from Companies D and F, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, and Airmen of the 61st Airlift Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, aimed to do that.

     The exercise took place at Marshall Army Airfield and included Army assets and the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft the Air Force uses to insert forces into austere locations in actual missions.

     According to planning documents for the exercise, Airmen used the opportunity to prepare for deploying aircrew in support of Army operations at overseas locations.

    For the Army’s part, Soldiers looked to use sharpen skills using forklifts and other equipment in loading and unloading mission essential equipment such as the tactical air traffic control systems.

     Capt. David Talarico, commander of Co. F, said communication between the services was a key training point. Something as mundane as differences in hand signals used by the two services is critical during a real mission, one in which he said could require his team to follow on the heels of expeditionary forces such as Army infantry units or even a Marine unit.

     “This was an opportunity for Soldiers of both Delta and Fox companies to see the differences in hand signals that are used from what we are used to with the Army and what the Air Force uses with their loadmasters,” he said. “So it gives them the opportunity to adjust and learn.”

     These events are for asking the questions that mitigate uncertainty, Talarico said.

     “It was successful last night (June 10) when one of (the CAB’s) forklift operators actually did stop because he wasn’t sure of the sign of what she (the USAF loadmaster) was giving,” he said. “So we were able to explain to him, ‘hey this is what’s going on. The signals are different and it’s not what you’re used to, but this is what they are looking for when they say that.’”Capt. Kyle Ditonto added, what was done at MAAF was what is done in an actual mission. “I would say that what we are doing (with this exercise) closely resembles what we do in a tactical environment,” he said. “These are the basic operations we need to operate. And, as Capt. Talarico talked about, our loading teams have to be able to communicate properly with the aircrews. And that’s the case whether we are working with C-130s or C-17s (a much larger aircraft). We want to make sure that each team’s intent is being met, that safety is priority, and that we aren’t damaging equipment.” Overall, the exercise went well, Talarico said. “We did pretty well last night. We got several loads put in the aircraft. They (the 61st AS) got good training value for the trainees they brought with them.”