KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Leading into their deployment, the troopers of Company D, 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, conducted constant training in the event of a downed aircraft. The troopers of Company D finally get their chance to validate their performance in a simulated training event in an outpost near Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
To achieve this critical mission, the troopers rely on the skills and dedication of its downed aircraft recovery team known as the DART.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Main, UH-60 helicopter repairer, Company D, 2nd AA Bn., 82nd CAB, noncommissioned officer explains how the DART is composed.
"The DARTs are a mixture of aviation mechanics and a technical inspector," said Main. "Our team is fully trained to repair all forms of aircraft flown by the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade."
During the simulated training event, Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), provided the aerial reaction force.
First Lt. Neal Brady, infantry platoon leader, HHC, 2nd Bn., 327th Inf. Regt., explains the role his infantryman assist the DART team.
"Our job as the aerial reaction force is to ensure the site of accident is secure," said Brady. "It’s important for my guys to quickly provide security in order to allow the DART or Army medical evacuation helicopter to be inserted safely to conduct their mission."
The first DART member to arrive to the scene is the technical inspector.
"The TI is the eyes on the ground before the DART arrives at the scene," said Main. "After the TI determines if the aircraft can be flown back or the TI will need the rest of his team, the DART will then be launched," said Main.
During this time, the DART will have equipment pre-staged to allow the DART to complete its mission.
Spc. Vince Giallombardo, aircraft powertrain repairer, Company D, 2nd AA Bn., 82nd CAB, is currently serving in his first deployment and explains how pre-deployment training in the DART has been beneficial.
"We have trained to know our task proficiently," said Giallomardo. "As a member of the DART we have to work as a team, in the event of a real DART mission we can do our job quickly and smoothly."
Capt. Daniel Johnson, commander, Company D, 2nd AA Bn. explained the importance of this validation simulated event.
"We have trained for this mission in garrison, however our troopers now have the challenge of terrain and the addition of being in a combat environment," said Johnson.
Once the DART was airborne and flown to a remote location, the scenario would require them to extract two vehicles by sling-load, simulating an aircraft broken into two sections.
"As we arrived at the scene, I quickly broke my team into two sections one on each vehicle," said Main. "We then determined that one will be sling-loaded by a cargo net and the other by a 25k sling set."
After the DART successfully secured and rigged both vehicles, Company B, "Flippers," 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, extracted the vehicles with their CH-47 chinooks.
Once the training event was over and the Soldiers were flown back in Kandahar Airfield, the DART is posture to recover any aircraft within the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade area of responsibility.
"Today’s validation training event is as realistic you can get," said Johnson. "Regardless of the amount of time we train for this type of scenario, there is always room for improvement in our techniques and procures."