APRIL 13, 2016, ELEFSIS, Greece – Kaiserslautern-based Soldiers and Airmen joined with Greek riggers to participate in a multinational exercise named Spartan Hellenic, which focused on building airdrop interoperability at the Greek Air Force Base, April 1-9.
The two American units were the Army’s 5th Quartermaster Theater Aerial Delivery Company, 39th Transportation Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, and the Air Forces’ 37th Airlift Squadron, 86th Air Wing, and the Greek unit was the 865th Aerial Delivery Battalion. The units use theater airdrops to resupply warfighters with food and equipment they need to continue to do their job via containers on platforms pushed out of C-130J Super Hercules cargo planes.
“It’s amazing how well we can cooperate,” said Lt. Col. Ioannis Ioannou, the 865th Aerial Delivery Battalion Commander. “We know what they want as far as airdrop missions and they know what we can do as far as capabilities.”
“We’re training them and they’re training us on aerial delivery because it’s our job as Soldiers to always be ready,” said 1st Lt. Broumidis Vasilios, the Greek Rigger Company Commander. “It’s important for us that the 5th QM has chosen Greece and the 865th for their training because both sides gain experience and get to know each other better. This exercise is strengthening the bonds between the units.”
Some of the equipment dropped included various supplies like water, MRE’s, ammunition, packaged fuel, and anything else that the “Hercules” company is capable of dropping from a plane, including a Humvee.
“We’re comparing the work the Americans and Greeks do as paratroopers,” said Sgt. Amber Jaramillo, a rigging inspector with 5th QM. “I’ve learned some rigging techniques we weren’t aware of.”
Junior sergeants such as Jaramillo are the ones leading this training, including showing the Greek riggers the American method of rigging a Humvee by the manual for airdrop and sling load operations.
“Training with our NATO allies here opens the lines of communication for both partner nations and strengthens our relationship,” said Capt. James Arthur, 5th QM’s commander. “Also we’ll incorporate these interoperability best practices back in our formation in Germany.”
The exercise increased the interoperability between the two allies through the combined use of Type-Five Palette Systems and Container Delivery Systems.
Soldiers can push both systems on or off any U.S. or Greek Army cargo aircraft, as they meet the standards of both countries, such as having the same width of aircraft rollers on which the cargo is loaded and unloaded.
“It’s a great feeling to work with a nation that has similar airdrop capabilities as us,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ronnell Gillespie, 5th QM’s platoon sergeant on the ground here. “We conducted airdrop operations with them last year and they had more questions than we had time to answer, so coming back and building off what we started is outstanding for both nations.”
The exercise facilitated airdrop operations with enhanced multinational interoperability, developed relationships with our Greek allies, and furthered 5th QM’s deployment readiness.
“We’re building our relationship with our Greek Allies to make sure that if ever there was a moment that we had to call on them for help, they have the capability and experience to perform the same tasks and vice versa,” said Gillespie.
Though this was the third exercise in which the Greek riggers cooperated with the 37th Airlift Squadron, it was the first time working with 5th QM.
“Our overall objective is to help our Greeks allies to build capability in airdrop operations and assure our commitment and interest in the security and stability of Greece,” said Arthur.