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U.S., African riggers and air crews exchange ideas
Staff Sgt. Bryan Smith, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron aircrew rescue air advisor, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., discusses aircrew rescue operations with Cameroon Air Force members following the opening ceremony for Central Accord 13, at Douala Air Force Base, Douala, Cameroon, February 20, 2012. Smith is participating in Central Accord 2013, a joint exercise in which U.S., Cameroon and neighboring Central African militaries partner to promote regional cooperation while and increasing aerial resupply and medical readiness capacity. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Stan Parker)
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U.S., African riggers and air crews exchange ideas

Posted 3/5/2013   Updated 3/6/2013 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Stan Parker
621st Contingency Response Wing public affairs

3/5/2013 - DOUALA, Cameroon  -- U.S. Army 5th Quartermaster Detachment parachute riggers and U.S. Air Force 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron air advisors conducted several seminars with African partner riggers and air crew members, enhancing each other's capabilities during the first week of Central Accord 13, at Douala Air Force Base, Douala, Cameroon, Feb. 21-24.

Central Accord is a 10-day joint aerial supply and medical readiness exercise aimed to enhance the Cameroon military and other neighboring Central African partner countries' logistical and resupply capabilities. The exercise also includes air drop and aeromedical evacuations, which could be beneficial during future contingency or humanitarian operations.

Within hours of the start of instructionthe U.S. Army parachute riggers, Cameroon Defense Force, Burundi Air Force, and the Republic of Congo Army personnel were collaborating on ideas regarding the aerial delivery of supplies.

The Kaiserslautern, Germany, based riggers are U.S. Army Europe's only asset for aerial delivery support. Although the unit is relatively small in numbers, its members assume theater-wide responsibility garnering vast experiences,which has been instrumental to the success of the exercise.

"We were able to demonstrate the low-cost, low-altitude system with our African partners, getting us all prepared for the eventual air drop during Central Accord," said U.S. Army Spc. Brian Trautt.

Republic of Congo Army 1st Lt. Parfait Innocent Louika, recognizes the information he has gathered could be instrumental in how air drop operations might be conducted in his county.

"It is very important because our parachute units could use these techniques in my country," Louika said. "We have large paratrooper units and sometimes to accomplish our mission we have to resupply by air. That is why the cooperation with the United States and African partner nations is so important."

Following a demonstration the exercise participants received hands-on experience they needed, adding skid boards, honey comb weight dispensing material, supplies, and eventually the parachute to construct the systems.

"The partner nation members easily grasped the concept, with the language barrier playing a minimal part ... It was a really fun experience, Trautt said."

While cargo specialists and riggers were sharing ideas on air drop solutions, participating air crews were working together to discuss airlift considerations. Air advisors from the 818th MSAS and Cameroon Air Force personnel shared ideas regarding aerial delivery system considerations, air crew coordination, calculated air release point, and air drop safety box considerations.

"We shared ideas on aerial delivery of the low-cost, low-altitude using the C-130 aircraft," said Maj. Timothy Feltis, MSAS mission commander. "I think an enduring characteristic of aviation are the similarities among the partner nations. So it was a collaborative effort to share ideas on how to conduct an LCLA air drop for this exercise."

Feltis added his African partners are proficient at conducting personnel air drop safely, and he enjoys sharing his experiences conducting aerial delivery methods using the aircraft ramp and door.

"We worked together in crew resource management and in many circumstances identified we already have the ability, but this exercise will give us the practice we need to build our confidence," said Cameroon Air Force Col. Yamba Guillaume, a C-130 pilot. "It has been a great effort to work together."

Feltis shared the similar sentiments, highlighting the importance of cooperation.

"Working side-by-side with our partners here in Africa has been mutually beneficial, Feltis said. "What we demonstrated is how important partnerships are, which is instrumental in fostering a stable and secure Africa."

Over the course of the next week U.S. Airmen, Soldiers, and Sailors will continue to collaborate with their African partners and use their experiences to foster key relationships and enhance capabilities.

Of the more than 700 military members participating in the exercise, most are from the Cameroon military with about 160 participants from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy. Nineteen additional participants from neighboring African countries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Sao Tome e Principe, and Gabonese Republic also joined the exercise in Cameroon.

Central Accord is U.S. Army Africa annually sponsored exercise that brings together U.S. military personnel with counterparts from militaries throughout the African continent to enhance military interoperability, providing an opportunity for the sharing of common goals and foster security cooperation. This year the scope was broadened to include medical readinessand aerial delivery capacity.

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