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Soldiers, Airmen join forces during training

3rd Bde., 2nd inf. Div. Public Affairs

Published: 05:17PM June 26th, 2014
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Courtesy photo

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ker Vang, a loadmaster with 10th AS, ground guides Stryker combat vehicles off a C-17 Globemaster during training on JBLM, June 19. The training allowed Soldiers and Airmen to work together and practice loading and unloading Strykers.

Stryker combat vehicles are big — 15 tons of reinforced metal, rubber and weaponry big.

Moving a Stryker across the world with a full complement of Soldiers, food and equipment — an equally big job.

Soldiers from 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and their Air Force partners from 10th Airlift Squadron, spent June 19 training to load and unload Stryker vehicles, crews and equipment off and onto aircraft at McChord Field on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

“I think it’s good that you exercise the Army and the Air Force together ... it brings us together to de-conflict any difficulties we are having,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Chris Harriss, the mobility officer for 7th Infantry Division who helped coordinate the training. “As many times as you do this as one service, as an Army, you’re never going to get the full experience of doing it jointly. With the Air Force, (you) truly find out what it takes to move a force off the installation.”

The day began early with phone calls from leaders to Soldiers informing them of the short-notice training. After assembling their gear and vehicles, the Soldiers moved Strykers on to the airfield and began the process of weighing, measuring and loading the vehicles onto the aircraft. The C-17 crewmembers taught 3rd Bde. Soldiers how to ratchet down equipment to keep it stationary during flight.

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to work in conjunction with the Air Force and actually bring the Strykers through the whole process and load them,” said Lt. Col. Doug Walter, 5-20 Inf. battalion commander.

Walter said this was an eye-opening event for his Soldiers, especially for those who never worked with the Air Force before.

“So now they have a complete understanding of the process and they have the skills to assist as far as tying down Strykers and building the pallets,” Walter said. “I thought that went really well.”

Walter commended the C-17 loadmasters who took the time to teach his Soldiers how to load and secure their own vehicles on the aircraft.

“The loadmasters have been great,” he said. “They’ve been going above and beyond to really help the guys out and make sure they do everything they need to do.”

For the Airmen, the Soldiers provide an extra set of helping hands.

“The more people who can do little tasks like this during a mission, the quicker a mission can run,” said Airman 1st Class Ker Vang, a 10th ALS loadmaster.

Vang said training like this helps everyone learn to safely and efficiently move Strykers onto the C-17s, while fostering camaraderie among the services.