Riggers Keep Soldiers Off the Roads, Out of Harm’s Way
Parachute riggers of the 600th Quartermaster Company from Fort Bragg, N.C., prepare a load of water and food in the event a remote Iraqi unit needs to receive supply from the air.

LSA ANACONDA, Iraq – With most American deaths in Iraq attributed to roadside bombs, coalition troops here are taking steps to counter the threat.

The 13th Sustainment Command has turned to airdrops to keep convoys off the road.

“Everything we’re doing here is trying to save lives and limit the number of convoys that have to go out,” said Warrant Officer David Bird, a parachute rigger with the 600th Quartermaster Detachment here.

Airdropping supplies to remote outposts housing military transition teams, provincial reconstruction teams and border transition teams is crucial to minimizing IEDs’ effects on coalition logistics.

“It took four trucks to get these supplies here (in the rigger shed) to us, and that was an inter-post transfer. Outside the wire you’re going to need at least two gun trucks to protect them,” Bird said.

“Then you know they are going to stumble on some ‘Christmas lights’ strung out along the side of the road, so then you are going to have to call out an EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) team to clear it. Now even more trucks and more security. As you can see, the costs in fuel and time are spiraling upwards,” Bird said.

Speed is crucial for the riggers, especially when getting airdrop-recovery assets out of the area as fast as possible. They want to make sure they can just snatch their supplies and move with as little hassle as possible.

“The whole thing is: we’re trying to save lives so we want to get them off the drop zone quickly. We don’t want them worrying about this item or that item. Just cut, grab and go,” Bird said.

The eight-member team from Fort Bragg, N.C., can push out faster than the last detachment, which comprised more than double the Soldiers, Bird said.

Instead of just dropping cargo from Air Force C-130 aircraft, they are also designing loads that can be dropped by Army Sherpa light planes as well as UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-46 Chinook helicopters.

“Using Army platforms will hopefully cut through some red tape, allowing a faster response time for emergency resupply,” he said.

The riggers hope that air dropping supplies to remote units will eventually become the preferred method of delivery.

“Once we get the system rolling a lot more smoothly and some of the other units realize that it’s not really that difficult of a task, hopefully they will start using it more often. The overall thought is we want to save lives,” Bird said.