19-Feb-2015 Source: USMC
Marines with Combat Logistics Detachment-1, I Marine Expeditionary Force, demonstrated Helicopter Support Team operations to members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force during Exercise Iron Fist 15 aboard Camp Pendleton, Feb. 10, 2015.
Exercise Iron Fist 15 is an annual bilateral training exercise between U.S. and Japanese military forces that builds their combined ability to conduct amphibious and land-based contingency operations. IF15, currently in its tenth iteration, is scheduled from Jan. 26 to Feb. 27, 2015 in southern California.
“We practiced doing external air lifts with a net load of 30 cases of [food rations] and air drops with the same size load via an [MV-22B Osprey] while the Japan forces observed,” said Cpl. Joshua Vanpelt, a squad leader with Combat Logistics Detachment-1. “The [JGSDF] was there to learn what we do with external lifts and air drops, what they look like, how to load them and how important they are to the Marine Corps.”
The JGSDF observed as the Marines did their individual work with external lifts, but they had the opportunity to help with the air drop loads rigged with parachutes. The JGSDF then saw their work be dropped from about 300m in the air and float down to a targeted area as planned.
Japanese forces were able to appreciate the capabilities and uses that air drops and external lifts can provide.
“Our job is important because we’re like the middlemen when it comes to resupplying units,” said Lance Cpl. Jose Ibarra, a fire team leader, also with CLD-1. “Units come to us with requests for specific supplies and we get them from point A to point B.”
External lifts and air drops are important to resupply troops when provisions are running low. Helicopter support teams can resupply food, water, ammunition and drop tactical vehicles in areas where the terrain is too difficult to maneuver into.
“I hope they learned the importance of external lifts and air drops and why they’re necessary in the Marine Corps,” said Vanpelt. “Most of all I hope they learned how useful this way of resupplying could be.”
The Marine Corps has this training because Marines understand how much more beneficial and proficient it can be in most situations. Doing practice HST operations also helps the Marines with CLD-1 to do their job faster and more efficiently, said Vanpelt.
The Marines of CLD-1 continue to train alongside the Japanese forces during IF15 to help strengthen their interoperability as well as prepare them for upcoming events.