By Air Force Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh, 62nd Airlift Wing
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing and soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division participated in a joint exercise to airdrop equipment and personnel at two drop zones during Exercise Predictable Iron at Fort Bragg, North Carolina’s Pope Field, from Aug. 20-24.
Airmen from the 7th and 8th Airlift Squadrons crewed two C-17 Globemaster IIIs to carry aloft more than a thousand Army paratroopers.
“It is crucial that the Air Force and Army work well together, because without each other the mission fails,” said Air Force Capt. Jared Barkemeyer, a pilot with the 7th Airlift Squadron and the aircraft commander for one of the C-17s. “Without the reliable transport the Air Force provides, the Army could not execute their objectives in a timely manner via airdrop.
“The airdrop insertion at a mass scale is something no other nation in the world can provide,” he added. “But, without the Army, the Air Force would strictly serve an air-land mission and, as a service, we would become less flexible to user requests.”
The airmen worked alongside soldiers to load equipment onto the aircraft and helped jumpmasters and paratroopers to maintain their readiness requirements for airborne missions.
“Every jump I’ve been on, the Air Force has been extremely helpful, accommodating and willing to work with us,” said Army Maj. Brian Plover, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s operations officer.
A benefit of the joint exercise was determining where there may be shortfalls and strengthening those areas to become more efficient or effective.
“It’s important that the Air Force participate in these events to ensure that we are ready to do what our nation expects of us, which is to insert the 82nd Airborne anywhere in the world within a short time frame,” Barkemeyer said. “Also, during these events we identify shortcomings between the two services and eliminate them in order to strengthen our joint-force initiative.”
Over the course of three days, airmen and soldiers dropped 40 tons of equipment, including armored vehicles and resupply containers, and 1,005 airborne soldiers.
“Working with the Army was great,” Barkemeyer said. “Inserting hundreds of jumpers into an objective area tests the crew’s abilities, as well as strengthens our habit patterns. The 82nd jumpers are some of the toughest service members around and being able to airdrop them is an honor.
“The exercise was a total joint success,” he added. “The Army users received all the training they needed as scheduled, and the 62nd AW provided every lift on time, thanks to the aircrews as well as the outstanding 62nd AW maintenance support that kept the aircraft mission ready all week.”
Testing New Systems
During one of the personnel airdrops, the Army also practiced a new method of airdropping the Caster-Assisted A-Series Delivery System, which are wheeled containers of equipment pushed out the doors of an aircraft.
“It’s pretty much a door bundle on wheels,” Plover said. “It’s a new thing. Every jump we push out a CAADS. It holds supplies that are needed immediately, such as water, food or ammo.”
While the exercise provided the airmen and soldiers the chance to work together, it also provided a chance for Air Force crews from different squadrons to work together.
“I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this exercise all week,” Barkemeyer said. “Working with my crew from the 7th [Airlift Squadron], as well as the crew from the 8th [Airlift Squadron], was awesome. We worked really well as one unit and had fun doing it.”
Exercise Predictable Iron allowed airmen and soldiers to strengthen their skill sets together and work toward a common goal. Exercises such as this help accomplish the Department of Defense’s mission to provide the combat-credible military forces needed to deter war and protect U.S. security.