FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. --
Members of the 164th Operations Group collaborated with members of 2-44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment and the Expeditionary Air Ground Liaison Element (EAGLE) of the 621st Mobility Support Operations Squadron during a joint training event at Fort Campbell, Kentucky July 30, 2020.
The purpose of the training is to prepare Airmen and Soldiers with the logistical knowledge and skill sets needed to load and transport the Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) intercept Land-based Phalanx Weapon System (LPWS).
“I believe it’s really important for us to train jointly,” said Master Sgt. Jacob Simmons, a C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster with the 164th Operations Group, Memphis Tennessee.
“Because in the real world, when we actually go fly missions; we land somewhere, our loading team can be Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors; Marines. We load with them all, so it’s important to build a good working relationship.”
The C-RAM LPWS loading program is a 3-week driving course that consist of hands-on Freightliner M916A3 driving instructions that teaches drivers the techniques needed to safely and successfully load and unload the LPWS from the C-17 or C-5.
“The program we had before is out of date, because the regulation changed in September of 2019, so we revamped the battalion driver program, ” said Army Staff Sgt. Hadar Espinoza, Lead Battalion Master Driver, with the 2-44th ADAR.
After several weeks of instruction, the drivers are put through a practical exercise involving multiple organization so that they can practice everything under controlled real-world conditions.
Espinoza explained that the exercise was the final exam for the eight soldiers several days of preparation.
“They have been practicing the last 3 days how to load a vehicle on to the back of an aircraft with a mockup ramp we have here on the flight line, and it’s led up to this point,” said Espinoza.
The practical exercise required coordination between the 164th OG, 2-44th ADAR and the newly established 621 MSOS EAGLE’s.
“We basically go around and help different users (Army, Marines, etc.) basically using the Air Force (aircraft) to effectively get their cargo to wherever they need it,” said Master Sgt. Heather Harp, 621 MSOS flight chief of operations, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
The C-RAM LWPS has a lot of different logistical restrictions and requirements when loading it into an aircraft, so it is the duty of the EAGLEs to teach the 2-44th ADAR what to do so they would be prepared for their deployment.
“The C-RAM has a lot of restrictions on loading it up in the aircraft, so that’s why we came out here,” said Staff Sgt. Taylor Gaughf, an EAGLE member with the 621 MSOS.
“We are trying to train them so that the next time they see the real thing, it will expedite the process,” said Gaughf. “You are talking about time delays, Air Force equipment not being utilized correctly, so our job is to mitigate that problem.”
The C-RAM intercept LWPS is an important piece when it comes down to base defense in a deployed environment. The system was originally built to be used as a defense system on Navy ships. It wasn’t until 2006 when the Army Centurion Weapon System mission was established in Iraq in an area in Bagdad known as the green zone. The C-RAM intercept LWPS is capable of destroying 70-80 percent of all rockets and mortar rounds launched. The lives of many deployed members depend on the abilities of the Army and Air Force to effectively transport this system form location to location.
Simmons add: “If we train to a high level of professionalism; teach them as well as learn from them, then we are setting future air crews, as well as loading crews on the ground, up for success.”