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NEWS | July 7, 2014

New York Guard members conduct sling load operations in Afghanistan

By Sgt. Michael Selvage 10th Sustainment Brigade

CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan - Soldiers assigned to the 1569th Transportation Company, a National Guard unit out of New Windsor, New York, conducted sling load operations training here June 30.

With the help from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 169th General Support Aviation Battalion, a CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopter unit comprised of Georgia and Alabama guard members, the Soldiers of the 1569th TC, 548th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, were able to conduct sling load training with helicopter support, which is something not always available.

The training consisted of a day and night portion to better prepare the Soldiers for the obstacles they may have to overcome.

Soldiers met up with the Chinook crew to go over a safety brief, the planning and preparation portion of the training.

Once the Soldiers had a solid grasp of the mission they moved out to the training area to conduct the hands-on portion of the sling load training. The instructors were members of the crew team and would lead the Soldiers to the equipment that was ready to be hooked up to the Chinook.

They practiced how to correctly prepare and hook up cargo to the aircraft as well as how to communicate with the pilots and crew members inside.

Staff Sgt. Mike Wolff, of Marlboro, New York, a motor transport operator assigned to the 1569th TC, said that it was great training to have for the Soldiers. This is something he had to do on a previous deployment and was excited to have his Soldiers get the same experience.

When the Soldiers were in place, the crew members signaled to the pilots they were ready.

The pilots maneuvered the Chinook directly over the equipment before hovering about nine feet off the ground.

With the rotor wash throwing sand, rocks and anything loose in the training area, the Soldiers kept their eye on the prize and were determined to secure the cargo correctly.

As soon as the instructors ensured the cargo was hooked up, they made their way out from under the Chinook and took a knee to signal to the crew team that everything was ready to go.

The Chinook's hooks released the cargo connections when the crew members inside received the signal from the ground instructors. After the ropes fell to the ground the pilots gracefully manipulated the Chinook back into the staging area to await the next set of Soldiers.

"I was blown away by the power of the Chinook's rotors," said Pfc. John Bowman, a Hopewell Junction, New York native, motor transport operator assigned to the 1569th TC.

Soldiers may be required to use air assets as part of the retrograde mission throughout Afghanistan and sling load training is one way to help prepare Soldiers.