The Airmen and Soldiers of Joint Base Lewis-McChord have learned how to train for the unexpected. Joint Base Lewis-McChord Airmen and Soldiers participated in a Mission Oriented Training exercise April 13 on the McChord Field flightline.
Loadmasters from the 62nd Airlift Wing trained alongside Soldiers from the 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, to load a 121,000 pound Rough Terrain Container Handler onto a C-17 Globemaster III.
Weighing almost as much as an M1 Abrams tank, the RTCH was an unusual piece or equipment for loadmasters and Soldiers to load on a C-17 and a first time experience for all.
“This is a 100 percent brand new experience for everyone involved,” said Army Capt. Nima Sarrafan, 62nd Operations Support Squadron ground liaison officer.
“The vehicle is very large and heavy and few people have experience loading this. Having a heavy weight and large wheel frame makes this very difficult.”
Prior to loading the RTCH, Soldiers had to work with Airmen from the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron to ensure that it met all required standards.
“We go through a lot of preparation to get the weight measurements for center of balance right and we get to see why we do it and how it fits in the big scheme of things,” said Spc. Justin Murphy, a cargo specialist from the 21st Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 13th CSSB. “Just making sure everything was done correctly and that we were all kept safe while doing it was the main objective.”
Most of the loadmasters or Soldiers were inexperienced with loading the RTCH, and it presented some unique challenges during the exercise, according to Sarrafan.
“Coordinating between driver and loadmasters and distributing the weight was difficult” Sarrafan said. “This had to be done safely without damaging equipment or the aircraft. Loadmasters learned about complex loading procedures.”
In addition to training and gaining experience with a new piece of equipment, Airmen and Soldiers benefited from the opportunity to work together as a team, Sarrafan said.
“This builds camaraderie and lets them learn about each other’s jobs and competencies,” Sarrafan said. “Just being able to work with a team outside their normal unit is really beneficial for Soldiers and Airmen.”
The exercise provided beneficial training to loadmasters but also allowed them to practice training Soldiers on the proper loading of the C-17.
“We got to teach the Army how the Air Force does stuff like proper tie down and how stuff works on the aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Donovan Eliopulos, 62nd OSS loadmaster. “This gives them an opportunity to learn about our capabilities and allowed our newer loadmasters to see what all goes into planning.”
The loading and tie down of the RTCH was completed successfully without incident.
“Overall, today things went really well,” Eliopulos said. “We got to work with different Army agencies, and we learned that a piece of equipment like this puts a lot of limitations on the aircraft. All in all, it went really well.”
The exercise increased proficiency of Airmen and Soldiers at JBLM and will benefit future missions, Sarrafan said.
“All the statics are in preparation for deployments and larger training exercises like this,” Sarrafan said. “For deployments, when they need to send large amounts of equipment with them via shipping containers, the RTCH is what moves them.”
JBLM Soldiers and Airmen have learned how to train for the unexpected and will continue to do so through monthly joint training scenarios.