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Charleston to Kandahar: joint effort delivers much needed airlift for Army.

In April, Military Sealift Command A major command of the US Navy, and the US Transportation Command's component command responsible for designated common-user sealift transportation services to deploy, employ, sustain, and redeploy US forces on a global basis. Also called MSC. See also transportation component command.  transported 100 new and recently refurbished Black Hawk Black Hawk

(born 1767, Sauk Sautenuk, Va.—died Oct. 3, 1838, village on the Des Moines River, Iowa, U.S.) Sauk Indian leader. Long antagonistic to whites, Black Hawk was driven into Iowa from Illinois in 1831.
, Apache, Chinook Chinook, indigenous people of North America
Chinook (shĭnk`, chĭ–), Native American tribe of the Penutian linguistic stock.
 and Kiowa Warrior helicopters from the U.S. East Coast to the Middle East--a move that doubled the number of U.S. military helicopters Military helicopters are helicopters used by military forces. They can be found in a variety of roles in diffferent militaries of which the tactical airlift mission is the most common.  in Afghanistan.

MSC (1) (MSC.Software Corporation, Santa Ana, CA, www.mscsoftware.com) Founded in 1963 by Richard H. MacNeal and Robert G. Schwendler, MSC is the world's largest provider of mechanical computer aided engineering (MCAE) strategies, simulation software and services.  personnel and the captain and crew of the U.S. Maritime Administration's Ready Reserve Force roll-on/roll-off ship MV Cape Rise assumed active roles in the combined Navy, Air Force and Army operation. In addition to the helicopters, 250 pieces of aviation equipment were moved by ship from Charleston to Rota, Spain, then by air to Afghanistan in approximately three weeks.

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The arrival of the helicopters is expected to greatly improve the effectiveness and safety of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan.

For years, most of the U.S. aircraft sent to the country supported troops in the east, where, until recently, the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  operated its sole aviation brigade out of Bagram Air Field located at the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command-East headquarters.

But these new and recently refurbished helicopters were destined des·tine  
tr.v. des·tined, des·tin·ing, des·tines
1. To determine beforehand; preordain: a foolish scheme destined to fail; a film destined to become a classic.

2.
 for ISAF's regional command in southern Afghanistan, where an additional brigade began arriving April 1, following a February announcement that several thousand more U.S. troops would be deployed to the area this year.

The aircraft quadrupled the previous lift capabilities at Kandahar Air Field. The helicopters will support the Operation Enduring Freedom efforts of U.S. and NATO forces See: force(s). , including Soldiers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Romania and the Netherlands.

A small aviation inventory--20 helicopters--in Kandahar meant that Soldiers in the south primarily traveled in ground vehicles. This increased the threat of roadside bombs.

"Acquiring more helos helps troops avoid land transportation and aids us in countering Improvised Explosive Devices Noun 1. improvised explosive device - an explosive device that is improvised
I.E.D., IED

explosive device - device that bursts with sudden violence from internal energy
, which are currently the biggest threat to Soldiers in Afghanistan," said Army Lt. Col. Edwin Brouse, the deputy brigade commander In the United States Army, the commanding officer of a brigade is a Brigade Commander. The position is usually held by a colonel, although a lieutenant colonel can be selected for brigade command in lieu of an available colonel.  of the Army's 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. Brouse deployed to Kandahar from Fort Bragg Fort Bragg, U.S. army base, 11,136 acres (4,507 hectares), E N.C., N of Fayetteville; est. 1918. Originally an artillery post, it is now the principal U.S. army airborne-training center and the site of the Special Warfare School. , N.C., in late April with other members of his airborne unit to function as part of the new brigade's first combat unit.

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But before the helicopters reached Kandahar Province, higher in altitude but physically similar to Iraq, the aircraft endured a long journey facilitated by many players.

"It was truly an all hands everybody; all parties.

See also: Hand
 effort," said Tom D'Agostino, MSC's representative in Charleston since 1986, who helped to synchronize the numerous forces and organizations that worked together to execute the important operation. D'Agostino later received a Maritime Administration letter of appreciation for his support to the vessel.

Cape Rise's civilian ship master, Capt. Gary Hill Gary Hill (born in 1951, Santa Monica, California, U.S.) is an American artist who lives and works in Seattle, Washington.

One of the pioneers of video art, Gary Hill has exhibited his video and video installations worldwide (Artfacts 2007).
, and his crew of nine civilians quickly switched into high gear when Cape Rise, ordinarily layberthed in Portsmouth, Va., was activated March 25.

Cape Rise is one of 50 Ready Reserve Force ships that offset the shortage of commercial U.S.-flagged ships that are able to transport large combat equipment. When activated, RRF ships come under the operational control of MSC and supplement the command's surge sealift sea·lift  
tr.v. sea·lift·ed, sea·lift·ing, sea·lifts
To transport (troops or supplies) by sea, as when ground or air routes are blocked.

n.
A system or an instance of such transport.
 fleet. With 20 additional mariners hired specifically for the voyage, the ship set sail for Charleston March 31, arriving the next day.

D'Agostino spent the next few days coordinating the loading of the helicopters and numerous other pieces of heavy equipment onto the ship, a role in which he is well practiced. In 2008, MSC loaded and delivered 8,351 pieces--71,059 tons of cargo--from Charleston. Ninety percent of the cargo was destined for the Middle East and Afghanistan.

D'Agostino also functioned as a liaison between MSC, helicopter technicians contracted by the Army to load the cargo and members of the Army's 841st Transportation Battalion in Charleston tasked with load planning and documentation. When a cargo lift experienced some mechanical difficulties, D'Agostino coordinated a revised stow plan with the Army to allow the operation to continue with no delays while the elevator was being repaired.

"Helos require special care to ensure they are not jostled around," explained Hill, who has delivered the valuable cargo Cargo which may be of value during a later stage of the war.  many times in his 30-year seafaring career. En route to Rota, Hill maneuvered the ship at a slow, safe speed and closely monitored the weather forecast to ensure that strong winds and other weather threats did not harm the helicopters.

Six noncommissioned officers from the 82nd CAB rode the ship to help protect and maintain the helicopters while in transit. Soldiers fulfilling roles in this capacity are subject-matter experts, proficient in helicopter logistics in this case, and are referred to as 'supercargo' while en route.

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When Cape Rise docked in Rota April 14, the next operational team was ready to greet the mariners and supercargo SUPERCARGO, mar. law. A person specially employed by the owner of a cargo to take charge of the merchandise which has been shipped, to sell it to the best advantage, and to purchase returning cargoes and to receive freight, as he may be authorized.
     2.
, and immediately start on the next leg of the delivery.

Robert Foster Robert Foster can refer to:
  • Robert "Bob" Foster, current Mayor of Long Beach, CA
  • Robert Sidney Foster, former governor-general of Fiji
  • Robert Foster, Jamaican track and field athlete
  • Robert Foster, the Lord Chief Justice of England
, MSC's civilian shore representative since 2006, was among those preparing for the arrival of the ship at U.S. Naval Station The U.S. Naval Station in Key West, Florida, United States is a historic site. It is roughly bounded by Whitehead, Eaton, and Caroline Streets. On May 8, 1984, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.  Rota, located on the Spanish navy's Base Naval de Rota.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Foster, who is responsible for all of MSC's port operations in Rota and who supports operations in other European ports and Africa, explained that while a shipping destination located further east would be more appropriate for a delivery to Afghanistan, Rota was chosen as a sea-to-air transition point because it is the only naval base A naval base primarily for support of the forces afloat, contiguous to a port or anchorage, consisting of activities or facilities for which the Navy has operating responsibilities, together with interior lines of communications and the minimum surrounding area necessary for local  in the Middle East or Europe with a port and an airfield. This permits the transfer of cargo between ship and plane to occur within the base's gates.

"This convenience, however, does not make the helicopter operation an easy task," said Foster. Rota is not traditionally used for strategic sealift The afloat pre-positioning and ocean movement of military materiel in support of US and multinational forces. Sealift forces include organic and commercially acquired shipping and shipping services, including chartered foreign-flag vessels and associated shipping services.  operations because the port is an operating navy base that lacks the lay-down space, an open area usually several acres wide required to hold the large cargo moved off ships. Unlike ports such as Charleston or Ash Shuaybah, Kuwait, which conduct sealift operations daily, Rota has approximately six to 12 dry cargo operations a year.

Thus, Rota lacks some of the personnel essential to shoreside sealift-operational support. Because Rota is not a strategic hub, it also does not have a military unit stationed nearby. With the exception of a few Navy Seabees, there are no forces in the area. In order to properly execute each segment of the transport, groups with specific capabilities--including some from other European countries--reported to the base to help transfer the helicopters from ship to plane.

"When Rota does something like this, it's a big deal," said Foster, referring to the mass collaborative effort.

Two dozen Army contractors from the Theater Aviation Sustainment Manager-Europe Unit from the 21st Theater Support Command flew in from Germany to offload the helicopters from the ship and secure them in 'tractor tugs'--large, chain-linked yellow boxes that function as trains, moving cargo across the base.

Spanish nationals working for Rota's supply and warehouse carefully towed eight to 10 helicopters at a time along base roads to the airfield located 1.5 miles away.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The offloading operation took two and a half days, and involved more than 50 people who discharged the ship and brought the helicopters to the airfield.

Foster says the movement of helicopters across base is a spectacle. "It's like a parade--police escorts and stopped traffic lights included," he observed.

When the helicopters reached the airfield, they were received once more by members of Theater Aviation Sustainment Manager Europe, headquartered in Mannheim, Germany. TASM-E spent more than two days providing field, sustainment and limited aviation maintenance to both aircraft and aviation ground-support equipment, in addition to loading the helicopters onto the Air Force-operated aircraft designated to fly them into theater.

The Air Force's 725th Air Mobility Squadron set off for Afghanistan April 17. Each of the approximately 50 aircraft carried two or three helicopters, and two or three members from the 82nd Airborne tasked to Rota to accompany the aircraft into theater.

The aircraft arrived in Kandahar in late April, where the helicopters immediately began supporting military movement and activity.

Brouse expressed his gratitude for the comprehensive effort by recognizing how each body supports in-theater activity.

"This is a joint environment where we rely completely on each other to sustain until we get into the fight."

By Meghan Patrick

Military Sealift Command Public Affairs Those public information, command information, and community relations activities directed toward both the external and internal publics with interest in the Department of Defense. Also called PA. See also command information; community relations; public information.  
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Author:Patrick, Meghan
Publication:Translog
Date:Jun 22, 2009
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