1st AD RSSB refines sling-load operations in Afghanistan

A 100-foot-long line hangs from the belly of a helicopter as Soldiers and civilians learn how to properly attach cargo during 1st AD RSSB sling-load training on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 25. Photos by Sgt. Christopher Schmiett, 1st AD RSSB Public Affairs.

A 100-foot-long line hangs from the belly of a helicopter as Soldiers and civilians learn how to properly attach cargo during 1st AD RSSB sling-load training on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 25. Photos by Sgt. Christopher Schmiett, 1st AD RSSB Public Affairs.

By Sgt. Christopher Schmiett, 1st AD RSSB Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, Aug. 10, 2017)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Soldiers and civilian contractors from around the Combined Joint Operation Area-Afghanistan participated in sling-load training here June 24 and 25 to help refine the 1st Armored Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade’s standard operating procedure.

Sling load is the process of attaching cargo either by a long line directly underneath a helicopter or inside a helicopter, and the training consisted of two parts: a classroom portion and a practical exercise that included a real-world mission.

“The training consisted of basic concepts, procedures and requirements,” said Sgt. Alvaro Morales, a parachute rigger and an instructor for the class, assigned to the 824th Quartermaster Company, 136th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st AD RSSB. “The purpose of the class was to train Soldiers on sling-load operations, the new changes for the sling loads, and how we are going to apply the new SOP here in Afghanistan.”

Transporting cargo by helicopters has become a staple for forces in Afghanistan, as it provides fast transportation from one location to another.

“Sling load is one of the most used methods to transport cargo here in the area of operation, for its flexibility and efficiency,” Morales said. “You don’t need to be sling load certified to participate in operations. Because of this, any Soldier could eventually find him or herself in a situation where they have to either assist or execute sling load operations. It simply helps because knowledge is power and it’s beneficial for any unit to have trained personnel who will not only assist, but will expand unit’s capabilities.”

All the Soldiers attending the training had little to no experience in sling-load operations.

Soldiers and civilians learn how to properly and safely place a container onto a cargo net during 1st AD RSSB sling-load training at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 25.

“The class was made up of 21 Soldiers and civilian contractors,” said Staff Sgt. Russell John Horton Jr., a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 1st AD RSSB. “We had some service members who had been through air assault, some who had been through the sling load inspector certification course and some who had no sling load training at all. We also had Soldiers of all different occupation specialties. No Soldier has one job; we must all be multipurpose.”

The students were able to get a greater understanding of the capabilities of the aircrafts and confidences in their abilities to successfully complete the mission.

Spc. Devin Gray, a parachute rigger assigned to the 824th QM Co. who attended the class, said he learned a lot, including the proper hand and arm signals and the types of aircrafts he will be working with.

Soldiers load a container onto a cargo net in preparation for a 1st Armored Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade sling-load exercise on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 25.

The instructors wanted to make sure everyone in attendance would use the aircraft capabilities and convey the importance of safety when dealing with the aircrafts.

“I wanted them to take away the important part of all operations and executions, which is safety,” Morales said. “By knowing the capabilities of the aircraft and equipment, you will safely execute slings and accomplish the mission. I wanted them to know what everything looks like when it is right and to quickly identify if there is something wrong with the load or the procedures that might cause a malfunction or worse yet, get someone hurt. I also wanted them to know where to go to, as far as manuals and references, when they are in doubt.”

This training provided Soldiers and civilians with a greater understanding of sling load operations which will enhance operational readiness throughout the CJOA-A.