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Air-drop sustainment pioneer describes challenges of supporting "fast and furious" light infantry

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Light infantry troops are like little birds. They get up into the highest mountains, and they say, "Feed me, feed me," according to one sustainment officer in the 82nd Airborne Division involved in supply-by-air training here Sept. 6-11.

"As a logistician, how do you get the stuff that they need to them when they are in the most inaccessible spot, where there are frequently no roads?" asked Lt. Col. Paul Narowski, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team's 307th Brigade Support Battalion.

"You've got to learn to use the third dimension," he said.

During a Large Package Week exercise, paratroopers with 1BCT and air crews from a number of Air Force units learned to coordinate parachute drops of vehicles, artillery pieces, supplies and troops.

Narowski's sustainment soldiers prepared to drop 150 paratroopers and 60 containerized delivery system, or CDS, bundles to support the training objectives of the Air Force, he said. Each CDS bundle can be loaded with up to 2,000 pounds of supplies.

"The nice thing about a CDS bundle is that it's immediately configurable to be slung under a helicopter," said Narowski, who was part of the original team that developed what's known as a low-cost, low-altitude resupply.

LCLA employs small bundles, often fitted with non-serviceable troop parachutes and other low-cost rigging supplies, dropped from small aircraft at as little as 150 feet. It's cheap and accurate, and Narowski's team proved its worth in Afghanistan during his last tour there with 4BCT's 782nd BSB.

While mechanical and air traffic control issues caused the 307th's drop to be scratched at the last minute, the preparation was still good training, said Narowski.

"Based on my combat experience, my primary method of resupply is always by air," he said. "I will ensure that the staff maximizes every aerial-delivery asset before I start tasking trucks to get out on the road. If we can do it in a dimension that won't get interdicted by the enemy and put our paratroopers at most risk, that's a win-win for me."

Narowski said the learning curve is steep for logisticians trying to keep up with the "fast-and furious" light infantry.

"The important thing about the way the 82nd and 101st fight is, we don't fight head-on," he said. "We go for the soft flank around his strength. If he's strong along the road, then we can't send a convoy up the road. If we get a force into his rear area, how do we resupply them? You've got to have that agility and familiarity with things like air drop and sling load and use those to our advantage."

Narowski noted that, importantly, the enemy faced by the Army in recent years has neither surface-to-air missiles nor night vision capabilities, making airdrops and slingloads at night highly advantageous.

Across the brigade, Large Package Week included at least ten flights of aircraft, with over 2,000 paratroopers dropped, along with several howitzers and Humvees.

Article by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod, Army.mil