Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing participated in a joint exercise with the 82nd Airborne Division to drop equipment and personnel at two drop zones during Exercise Predictable Iron at Pope Field, N.C., from Aug. 20-24.
Airmen from the 7th and 8th Airlift Squadrons crewed two C-17 Globemaster IIIs to assist more than a thousand Army paratroopers in the exercise as joint training between the 62nd Airlift Wing and 82nd Airborne.
“It is crucial that the Air Force and Army work well together because without each other the mission fails,” said Capt. Jared Barkemeyer, 7th Airlift Squadron pilot and 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 continued. “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, as well as with jumpmasters and paratroopers to help them 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 Maj. Brian Plover, 1st Squadron, 73 Cavalry Scout, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne operations officer. “I have had no issues at all with the Air Force in my time jumping or as a jumpmaster.”
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, such as armored vehicles and re-supply containers, as well as 1,005 paratroopers.
“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 continued. “The Army users received all the training they needed as scheduled, and the 62nd Airlift Wing provided every lift on time thanks to the aircrews as well as the outstanding 62nd Airlift Wing maintenance support that kept the aircraft mission ready all week.”
During one of the personnel airdrops, the Army also practiced dropping the caster assisted A-series Delivery System, or CAADS, which is a new method to drop door bundles, a container 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 with the opportunity to work alongside Soldiers, it also provided a chance for Air Force crews from other 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 provided the opportunity for the Air Force and Army to strengthen their skill sets together and work toward a common goal. Exercises such as this one help accomplish the Department of Defense’s enduring mission to provide combat-credible military forces needed to deter war and protect the nation’s security.