By Sgt. Sidnie Smith-Swift | 4th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Soldiers with Foxtrot Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, conducted sling load and helicopter landing zone operations from Jan. 11-14, 2021.
Warrant Officer Brandon Delk, platoon leader, Foxtrot Company, 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg., 4th CAB, said the company is the only air traffic controller unit in the division and therefore provides a unique and vital role to the brigade.
“This serves as advanced training for our tactical air traffic controllers and builds a foundation for us to try a variety of unique external cargo loads, and potentially drop zones (dropping a Humvee with a parachute out of a flying plane) in the future,” Delk said.
While moving equipment in and out of a combat zone is critical, this training also has an important impact in the Colorado Springs community.
“In the garrison environment, the Army’s mission is the Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), which includes natural disaster relief,” said Delk. “During wildfire season in Colorado, you often see Army aircraft carrying water to the site of the fire, using a sling load (Bambi bucket). Many communities in Colorado are located in the mountainous terrain; in the event of a natural disaster (avalanche, flood, mudslide), an entire community may be stranded. The Army’s capability to sling load allows us to supplement civil authorities and rescue teams to not only transport personnel, but also any equipment and machinery that may be required in the rescue mission.”
Capt. Harrison Green, company commander, Foxtrot Company, 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg., 4th CAB, said sling load training is not something his unit gets to train on a day-to-day basis. Many of the Soldiers participating in the training are doing it for the first time ever in their Army careers.
“Our job is (to be) able to provide tactical air traffic services to the entire brigade,” Green said. “We really have some unique Soldiers because of that. None of this would be possible without the Soldiers our here. It’s something I definitely can’t do myself.”
Sling load operations were critical in helping local Colorado Springs emergency services during the Wild Horse Fire in October 2020.