MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii – The Soldiers of Comanche Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment “Raiders,” 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, conducted fast rope insertion extraction system (FRIES) techniques with their Marine Corps and Air Force counterparts, here, March 22.
The Raiders also conducted a series of rappels and sling loads from UH-60 Black Hawks, and helocasts from CH-47 Chinooks, March 21-23, as part of the overall helicopter training.
The second day of training was nothing ordinary as the Raiders conducted joint training with Airmen assigned to 25th Air Support Operations Squadron, as both fast roped down from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367’s UH-1Y “Venom” helicopter.
“Yesterday we did the rappelling from the UH-60s, and we got some good rappel techniques,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tim Briggs, platoon sergeant, 1st Plt. Comanche Troop, 3-4 Cav. Regt. “We kind of fine-tuned those techniques. Today with the fast rope it’s a little bit different, a little bit higher risk.”
Briggs stated the challenges of working together, interservice wise, with the Marine Corps such as understanding distinct systems and standard operating procedures had to be taken into account before training could commence.
“The Marines are obviously going to bring different techniques that we’re going to learn from, and they’re going to take something away from us; so the more we get to work with other agencies or other services, that obviously makes us and them better.” he said.
Sgt. Nicholas Carson, FRIES master, Comanche Troop, 3-4 Cav. Regt., stated that he had conducted fast rope operations from the Army’s UH-60 “Black Hawk” helicopter, but never before from a UH-1Y, and had to adjust the training accordingly.
“With the Marines today, they use a different system for point of attachment in their UH-1Y,” Carson said. “They use gantries versus FRIES bars, which are commonly used in the UH-60. It’s going to be a learning experience for me, so I hope I come out with a better realization with FRIES on a whole.”
Air Force joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC) from the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron base out of Wheeler Army Airfield fast roped alongside their Army counterparts down to the landing zone.
“All of our JTACs are assigned to the different battalions and brigades at the Army level and go out in the field with them. The guys out here right now are actually part of this unit, and would be stationed out with them,” explained Staff Sgt. Andrew Hardie, JTAC, 25th Air Support Operations Squadron.
Capt. Patrick Butler piloted the HMLA-367 helicopter from Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay to Bellows for the mission.
Butler described his part of the operation, “We’re going to do what we call elevator operations where we’ll land on deck and then load up troops. We’re going to load up to eight of the troops in back and then we’re going to lift up into a hover up to 30 feet. Afterward they’re going to release the ropes so the Soldiers and Airmen can fast rope down out onto the deck.”
As for the Soldiers with Comanche Troop, the training provided something out of their normal comfort zone.
“It’s actually nice to be able to use a different aircraft, because normally we use Army UH-60s or UH-47s, so I’m excited to use a different bird,” said Spc. Ryan Danielian, infantryman, Comanche Troop, 3-4th Cav. Regt.
“Honestly, it’s a nice adrenaline rush. It’s something different that a lot of people don’t get to do. I’m all about doing new stuff that gives you that little rush. So it’s not just typical stuff,” Danielian added.
Article by: Staff Sgt. Armando Limon