Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Supplies From the Sky: Air Force, Army Partnership Delivers the Goods

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hehnly 386th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Sept. 26, 2017 — The Air Force’s 386th Air Expeditionary Wing plays a major logistical role in delivering critical supplies to the frontlines in the war against ISIS. One of the ways the wing supports the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve mission is by conducting airdrops to move supplies down range.

The airdrop missions flown by the 386th AEW’s aircrews are the direct result of a working partnership between the Air Force and Army. At the heart of that partnership is the relationship between the Army parachute riggers and the Air Force loadmasters.

“Whether in theater or back in garrison, we are constantly working with different air wings from across the Air Force,” said Army Staff Sgt. Justin Devaul, a parachute rigger assigned to an Army special operations forces group. “They are either flying to our station or we are going temporary duty to their station, and they are getting certified on different types of air bundles while we are staying proficient at our jobs. So it’s never ending. We need the Air Force in order for any of this to happen.”

The airdrop process begins when the Army parachute riggers receive a supply request from troops on the frontlines. The requests range from food and water to ammunition and special equipment. Whether it’s a routine resupply or an emergency resupply, the riggers quickly get to work palletizing and rigging up the materials.

Filling Urgent Requests

 “Our process is very important because once we receive the request on what they need we have a limited time, so if we rig the wrong thing or rig a malfunction into an airdrop, that could hurt the ground troop,” Devaul said. “If they are in a serious situation where they need ammo and we send the wrong ammo; that could really hinder their performance. Without the attention to detail from both the Army and the Air Force, the ground personnel would really be struggling.”

Devaul’s experience brings a sense of urgency to his mission.

“Seeing things from both points of view, it is definitely beneficial, because when we receive an emergency request here, you know what those guys are feeling on the ground,” Devaul said. “Being on the ground and having that emergency come up, you really need to have the riggers back here or wherever it is to really be on top of their game. They’re going to drop you ammo or whatever special items that you’re going to need to continue on with the fight, and it can really change the outcome.”


Once the items are rigged up, the Army riggers work with the Air Force to get the items onto a plane and airdropped to the target location.

The day of the drop, the planes are loaded and the Army riggers attach static lines to the airdrop bundles. Airdrop bundles are rigged within specific guidelines to ensure the cargo properly exits the aircraft, the parachute properly deploys and the bundle lands intact on its target.

It is the responsibility of the joint airdrop inspectors to ensure all the airdrop bundles are properly rigged before the airplane takes off. An Air Force joint airdrop inspector-certified loadmaster and an Army rigger inspect each bundle together.

“The Air Force loadmaster and the Army rigger are going through to make sure nothing is cut or frayed on the load itself, making sure the correct parachute is attached, the static line is attached correctly and everything is working properly,” Devaul said.

“There are quite a bit of things involved in rigging an airdrop,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Harper, a loadmaster with the 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. “It’s a lot more complicated than just loading the bundles and kicking them out. Depending if it’s heavy equipment or low-cost low-altitude small stuff, or if it’s a bigger containerized deliver system drop, they all have different types of chutes, all have different types of rigging so it’s important to know everything that you are looking for.”

Attention to Detail

Devaul and Harper agree that attention to detail by both the Army and Air Force is essential to ensuring success of these high priority missions.

“The inspection itself is very vital,” Harper said. “If that inspection isn’t done properly you could have a load that would go out of the airplane wrong, fail in flight or not get to the end user.”

The riggers and loadmasters understand that their rigging and inspections directly impact the troops on the ground, especially if it’s an emergency request where there are troops in contact who are counting on that pallet full of ammunition.

“It’s a big sense of pride, because you know that without the work that both the Army and the Air Force are doing, those guys wouldn’t be able to continue fighting,” Devaul said. “Thank God they are trained at what they do and they are great at what they do on the ground, but they wouldn’t be able to do that if we weren’t sending them things from the sky. We send them everything they need so there is a lot of pride in our work.”

Mattis: Meeting With Indian Defense Minister Comes at Time of Strategic Convergence

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2017 — The United States places great importance on building a vibrant defense partnership with India, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a press conference with India’s Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman following their bilateral discussions in New Delhi yesterday.

“This is a historic opportunity for our two democracies, a time of strategic convergence,” Mattis said. “As India takes its rightful place at the global table, India will find the United States to be a steadfast friend and partner.”

The four-day trip marks the first time a cabinet member from the President Donald J. Trump administration has visited India.

Strategic Partnership

The secretary said the defense cooperation between the two nations has steadily grown in recent years, and is underpinned by strategic convergence between both countries, based on common objectives and goals in the region.

The United States’ designation of India as a major defense partner reflects the progress of that cooperation and recognizes India as a “pillar of regional stability and security,” Mattis said.

“[And] it reflects our desire for a long-term strategic partnership in the 21st century,” he noted.

Security is a key strategic pillar in the wide-ranging relationship between the two nations, the secretary said.

“As we work to strengthen our defense relationship, we seek to expand our cooperation and building partnerships, also, across the region,” he said. “In particular, we applaud India's invaluable contributions to Afghanistan and welcome their efforts to promote Afghanistan's democracy, stability and security.”

Global Terrorism

Also key to the partnership is both the United States and India recognize the worldwide threat of global terrorism, Mattis noted.

“There can be no tolerance of terrorist safe havens,” he said. “As global leaders, India and the United States resolve to work together to eradicate this scourge,” he said.

Additionally, India’s leadership is vital in wide-ranging initiatives across the Indo-Pacific region, Mattis said.

“We appreciate India's stabilizing leadership in the Indian Ocean and seek to work together to build a resilient regional architecture with a foundation both our nations respect: that of a rules-based order,” he said.

The United States appreciates the efforts of India, the United Nations and the broader international community to increase pressure against North Korea over its dangerous and destabilizing behavior, Mattis said.

Deepening Defense Ties

“In addition to our growing global cooperation, the minister and I reaffirmed our commitment to deepen bilateral defense cooperation, in particular, expanding maritime engagement as one of our top priorities,” he said.

The secretary said he also looks forward to new U.S.-India naval exercises, and furthering the robust defense trade and technology collaboration between both nations’ defense industries.

“Cooperation in this area will improve the capabilities of both our militaries and reinforce the foundations for an enduring partnership,” Mattis said. “I look forward, alongside Secretary of State [Rex] Tillerson, to convening the inaugural two-plus-two dialogue in the near future between our foreign and defense ministers. ‘Steady engagement’ will be our watch words for the path ahead.”

Face of Defense: Marine Instructor Shapes Bright Future

By Marine Corps Cpl. Michael McHale Marine Corps Recruiting Command

QUANTICO, Va., Sept. 26, 2017 — The Marine Corps prides itself on its strides toward diversity, with nearly 16 percent of all enlisted Marines being Hispanic.

Every year, the Corps acknowledges the contributions of its Hispanic and Latino service members by recognizing their culture and heritage Sept. 15-Oct. 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Marine Corps Cpl. Saul Huerta-Magdaleno embodies this year's theme of "Shaping the Bright Future of America." He was born and raised in Mexico and moved to the United States in 2011 at age 16.

Huerta joined the Corps April 21, 2014, in Chicago, where he had lived since his family came to the United States.

"Ever since I was little, I always told myself that if I ever joined the military, I was going to join the best of the best," he said. "The Marine Corps is the best of the best." Huerta is now an artillery cannoneer and instructor at The Basic School at Camp Barrett here, and he coaches newly commissioned officers on firing howitzers during field training.

First to Volunteer

"He is always one of the first to volunteer for any task that comes up," said Marine Corps Cpl. Joseph Eisman, a fellow artillery cannoneer and instructor. "Each day, he strives for the best and pushes his body to the limit to accomplish his goals, whether they be in his personal life or within the Marine Corps."

Huerta comes from a large family of businessmen, doctors, engineers and pharmacists, and he credits his accomplishments to their example. "I was raised with great values," he said. "They taught me well. They taught me what to do to become a successful man."

Attending school full-time to study software engineering, Huerta said he hopes to add a minor in cybersecurity. Meanwhile, he added, he's networking so he is ready when he transitions out of the service, including working with a major information technology company.

Post-Marine Corps Opportunity

"They have a program for cybersecurity, networking and software engineering that I'll be starting in October," he said. "Once I graduate, they said they'd offer me a job [after the Marine Corps], which will give me the opportunity to go to school and finish my degree while I'm working for them full time."

Huerta said his successes can be attributed to his family and the Marine Corps, solidifying his dedication to the United States, enhancing his job proficiency and furthering his education to shape a bright future for himself and the nation.

"I'd say what defines Huerta the best is a quote by Winston Churchill," Eisman said. "'If you're going through hell, keep going.' Corporal Huerta is the epitome of this -- a dedicated and strong-willed Marine."