JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C., –
The 437th Airlift Wing executed a Large Formation Exercise with 21 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to complete a joint forcible entry airdrop with the 82nd Airborne Division at Pope Army Air Field, North Carolina, May 25.
“On order of our commander in chief, we can deliver the 82nd anywhere in the world at a moment's notice,” said Col. Louis Hansen, 437th Operations Group commander and mission commander. “Our capability is much more than bringing combat power to bare. We can also provide humanitarian support, whether through airlift, airdrop or aeromedical evacuation.”
Three of the aircraft flew to Pope AAF with equipment and Container Delivery Systems the day prior to the formation. CDS bundles contain a resupply of ammunition, food and water for the Soldiers. The other 18 aircraft flew to Pope AAF May 25 to pick up nearly 1,600 paratroopers from the 82nd Abn. Div. to be dropped at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The 82nd Abn. Div. was created Aug. 5, 1917. The division is nicknamed “All American” since the original members came from all 48 states at the time. Soldiers from the 82nd Abn. Div. celebrate their heritage with a series of sporting and regimental events annually during All American Week.
The culmination of All American Week is an Airborne Review which includes an air assault, artillery and engineer explosive demonstrations and the joint forcible entry airdrop. Due to high winds and safety concerns, the paratroopers and equipment drops were canceled.
“We definitely do not want anyone getting hurt in a training exercise so we made the decision not to drop and took everyone back to Pope,” said Hansen. “Our crews have specific tolerances and standards they follow to help minimize safety issues as best we can. However, you can never completely eliminate risk, so we have to always be aware of dangers.”
Charleston usually conducts LFEs once a year to practice joint forcible entry. According to Hansen, the training is invaluable to all involved. .
Approximately 650 Airmen with the 437th Maintenance Group worked 12-hour shifts three days prior to the aircraft launch, amounting to 7,800 hours maintaining and preparing the C-17s for takeoff. “Maintenance is absolutely important,” said Maj. Bert Secrest, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance operations officer. “We don’t want an aircraft to take off from here and have to come back because we overlooked something.”
“Successfully executing an exercise of this magnitude is a good confidence builder for our entire wing,” said Col. Jimmy Canlas, 437th AW commander. “This provided us with the chance to sharpen numerous skill sets across the base and every unit of our wing. The LFE demonstrated that our maintainers can generate a large amount of aircraft on a compressed time schedule, how our mission planners work under operational constraints and assumptions to create an intricate plan, and that our operators can go execute the plan. If and when the nation calls, we can answer without hesitation: we are ready. I am extremely proud of our entire team, including the support from the 628th Air Base Wing to make this happen.”