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C-130 Hercules support coalition operations

by Maj. Eric S. Elliott
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

4/25/2006 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- The 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron here has been supporting Operation Mountain Lion since it began April 12.

The squadron’s C-130 Hercules aircraft have delivered supplies such as food, water and ammunition for coalition combat operations.

“Our crews helped position personnel and equipment to forward locations before the operation began, even as our mission planners worked with other joint planners to determine suitable drop zones,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Lawrence, 774th EAS commander. “Once the operation began, we capitalized on the C-130’s flexibility by delivering essential supplies to units via airdrop and traditional air-land missions.”

Since the beginning of the operation, the squadron has flown thousands of pounds of supplies to coalition ground forces. Many of these forces were operating in isolated parts of the country where it would be difficult to bring in supplies by land.

The squadron flew two missions April 25, dropping 12 pallets of supplies to ground forces.

“The C-130 has the capability of resupplying troops in very remote areas, in all weather, day or night,” Colonel Lawrence said. “Our aircraft are equipped and our aircrews are trained to fly and deliver supplies where others can’t.”

Two of the drop zones used during the operation were on the side and crest of a steep mountain. This created particular problems for planners who had to determine the best flight path to help the aircrew hit the target while preventing the bundles from going over the edge of the mountain, the colonel said.

“We’d never used drop zones like these,” Colonel Lawrence said. “This mission required a lot of preparation and planning. We knew that if we missed the drop zone, the supplies would fall down into the valley and be of no use to the ground troops.”

Three aircraft flew these missions, dropping 34 pallets, each weighing about 1,000 pounds, “on time and on target,” he said.

“The mission was a success because we were able to bring the ground forces the supplies they needed,” Colonel Lawrence said. “It was rewarding to be able to directly support our fellow warriors in harm’s way, and (it) also reconfirmed the unparalleled capabilities of the C-130 and of our Airmen.”

Besides re-supplying troops, the 774th also has delivered more then 30,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies to villages in the Korengal Valley, one of the poorest areas of the country, said Army Lt. Col. Michael Forsyth. Supplies included food, medicine, fuel, clothing and water.

“We want to build trust and confidence among the people for the coalition and its efforts, and we believe by establishing this trust the local populace will be willing to cooperate with coalition forces in identifying insurgents, caches, enemy leaders and threatening activities,” Colonel Forsyth said. “A positive connection with the population is the key to denying the insurgents the ability to sustain themselves or to reenter the area.” 

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