C-130 aircrew exercises combat airdrop capability

A 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster observes a load of supplies as they fall to the ground in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Nov 14, 2018. The 746th EAS empowers OIR and the fight against the Islamic State group by providing mission critical airdrop, personnel transportation and resupply capabilities to U.S. and coalition forces conducting operations in support of OIR. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Castelan

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar – From food and water to ammunition and equipment, ground forces in the region receive critical assets thanks to C-130 Hercules aircrews like those from the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron stationed at Al Udeid Air Base.

On Nov. 14, 2018, one 746th EAS aircrew used a delivery method known as an “airdrop,” releasing 16 bundles of goods and equipment from an airborne C-130 to ground troops at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

“We bring tactical airlift, which is the capability to move equipment, supplies and people downrange to where they need to be to engage in the fight,” said Lt. Col. Frank Wilde, 746th EAS commander. “Airdrop is critical to the ground forces…the ones engaged in combat. It’s critical to resupply them so they can continue (the) mission.”

Resupplying service members through airdrop provides a safer way to get vital assets to those who need it.

“A capability of airdrop operations is that it reduces risk to ground forces,” said Lt. Col. Robert Coffey, 746th EAS C-130 navigator. “We dropped 32,000 pounds of combat capable supplies and assets. If you had to truck that to an austere location it would put ground forces and equipment at risk. With air drop we can put it precisely where we want it and get it to the ground forces within minutes.”

Although this was only the team’s second mission in theater, aircrew members credited mission success to home-station training and the combined expertise of diverse joint support elements.

“From our perspective the mission went smoothly,” said Maj. Christopher Clinton, 746th EAS C-130 aircraft commander. “It’s a culmination of a lot of training. A lot of the pieces of the mission happened just as we trained for. For a lot of us it’s no different from what we do at home. Training prepared us for this.”

“It was a team effort to get this all done,” added Master Sgt. Jason Harvey, 746th EAS C-130 loadmaster. “From tactics to scheduling to crews to ground support…not just Air Force, we’re talking Army, Navy…it’s a joint effort.”

Along with airdrop capabilities, 746th EAS Airmen enable the larger airlift mission, bringing aeromedical evacuation support and cargo transportation capabilities to the region as well.

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