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Joint exercise prepares Airmen, Soldiers for contingency ops

  • Published
  • By Airman Kevin Sommer Giron
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Green Flag Little Rock 16-09 kicked off Aug. 18, 2016, with approximately 750 U.S. Army airborne infantry soldiers jumping from several C-130J and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in the dead of night to seize and secure an assault zone.

The event, referred to as "hit night," marked the beginning of GFLR 16-09. Among the largest rotational air mobility training events in the world, the exercise is a realistic scenario-based training opportunity for the U.S. Air Force to interact with ground-force elements.

The emphasis of GFLR 16-09 was placed on strengthening the joint relationship between Air Mobility Command and the U.S. Army ground forces.

Throughout the weeklong exercise, AMC aircrews launched from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, to Intermediate Staging Base Alexandria, Louisiana, in support of U.S. Army operations at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana.

“We are here for our aircrews and the U.S. Army to receive the most accurate and realistic training, as well as build our relationship in order to work together more cohesively and efficiently,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Bryant Jarrell, 34th Combat Training Squadron exercise director.

The mass static-line personnel drop marked the beginning of the joint service training event.

Six C-130s from Little Rock AFB and Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, flew alongside six C-17s from Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The fleet lined the sky as they dropped containment delivery systems bundles and hundreds of paratroopers onto the secured zone near Fort Polk.

With key cargo dropped ahead of them, the Soldiers’ first objective was to create a blocking position, securing the landing zone while keeping opposing forces at bay.

“Once they get the [landing zone] secured,” Jarrell said, “We can bring in follow-on cargo -- beans, bullets and more fight or whatever they need -- through landing procedures.”

In total, AMC aircrews flew 29 sorties and offloaded approximately 750 paratroopers and 491 tons of cargo.

“The Air Force gets the job done on time, which is good because the faster they get us out there, the faster we can do our job on the ground,” said U.S Army Private 1st Class Bradley Gardinier, 82nd Airborne Division forward observer. “All of my jumps have been off Air Force aircraft -- this being my 10th jump.”

Green Flag Little Rock provides the most realistic tactical-level, joint-combat employment training, tailored to air mobility forces and U.S. Army needs. It also allows the crossflow of information to boost communications between branches.

“It’s the Army’s playground down here and a great training environment for us to utilize good airspace,” Jerrell said. “We work with the Army consistently because they’re the ones utilizing our aircraft in contingency operations. We depend on each other for land and air support, time and time again.”