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Lifeline battalion trains to sling load supplies

By Staff Sgt. Sharon Matthias | 22ND MOBILE PUBLIC AFFAIRS DETACHMENT | January 12, 2018

SKWIERZYNA, Poland — Soldiers from 299th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, trained on sling loading fundamentals at Skwierzyna, Poland Jan. 4. As a gesture of support, Polish soldiers assigned to 55th Air Defense Squadron came to observe the training.

     Sling loading is a method of rapidly transporting equipment tethered to the bottom of a helicopter with a rope. This method of delivery is a quick way to resupply forces with anything from ammunition to food.

      “We don’t always have accessibility to the units (operating at the front lines) because of the terrain features,” said Capt. Normand Valliere, an operations officer assigned to the 299th BSB, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. “If we need to do rapid resupply to a unit, we can provide it by aerial resupply.”

      Maintaining readiness and the ability to perform a specific task is why the 299th BSB rehearsed sling load drills, Valliere said. Drilling the task helps to prevent accidents and ensure cargo is delivered on time and safely.

     Staff Sgt. Michael W. Hellon, 299th BSB, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. said he and other Soldiers who are qualified to set up sling loads must always be diligent to check for equipment deficiencies.

      “(We) inspect the equipment to make sure there are no frays or cuts (to the rope) and the metal components are not bent or broken, (and they have no) rust or cracks,” Hellon said.

      Other safety precautions are also reinforced in training, such as making sure one is properly grounded. Failure to do this can result in a nasty shock of static electricity from the helicopter's rotating blades to the ground crew hooking up the sling load.

     While properly hooking up equipment can be dangerous to those involved, the ability for the U.S. Army in Europe to perform this task is important, given the number of areas that are densely wooded. In the right situation, it may be the best way to resupply troops. Knowing this, some Soldiers wanted to know more.

       “I was excited to learn the many ways we can transport cargo,” said Pfc. Adrianne Castillo 299th BSB, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. “I am praying I get to work on more sling load exercises.”