BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Dec. 5, 2008) – Combat Out Post Malakshay is one of many remote combat outpost located away from the usual logistic system that provides to larger forward operating bases and air fields throughout Afghanistan. It is a platoon-sized outpost established to prevent the traffic of militant fighters across the Afghan and Pakistan border.
Around three times a week helicopters deliver supply items to the remote outpost. They bring food, fuel, fire extinguishers, ammunition and several other items.
A CH-47 helicopter hovered directly over Malakshay at the eastern border of Afghanistan November 29.
It was carrying two 1,000 gallon of military grade diesel fuel containers on long ropes underneath it, a process described as sling loading. It was also carrying other resupply items inside
When something is sling loaded, it is dropped first inside the COP, everything else is unloaded down at the landing zone. A group of Soldiers secure the area and another group unload the supplies.
Sometimes this can be a pretty difficult job since there are no forklifts to help out, said Sgt. Gabriel Rodriquez, of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico and 2nd Squad, Alpha team leader.
“I do a count of everything we have on hand and request items that I think we should have,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Campbell, of Bemeut, Ill. and the Platoon Sergeant for 3rd Platoon, Charlie Co., 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment.
The resupply drop made this morning consisted of fuel needed for the next three or four weeks to run our generators, fire extinguishers and some other smaller items, Campbell said.
This resupply is essential in allowing these troops to accomplish their mission. The company rotates its platoons so the supplies they bring in can be used by their replacements.
“This request was put in two days ago.” Campbell said. “A majority of the COP is made up of mostly wood and I didn't feel like we had enough fire extinguishers on hand. We received around twenty, five and three lbs. extinguishers.”
After all of the items are were accounted for the rest of the platoon worked to put everything where it belonged. The fuel bags were drained into the fuel tank and the fire extinguishers were taken to the different towers and structures.
During a slingload operation a group of Soldiers secure the area and another group unloads the supply. Sometimes this can be a pretty difficult job without forklifts and heavy machinery for assistance, said Sgt. Gabriel Rodriquez, of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
The food is counted by the platoon’s cook, and the items that need to be refrigerated are sent over to the freezer, everything else is handled on a case by case basis.
The platoon eats two meals ready to eat, and one hot meal a day. The hot meal is cooked by one of the Soldiers on a wood burning stove, usually in the evening.
“Everything up here comes by air, “Rodriquez said. “Food, water, batteries and the equipment we use. If anything breaks down here we depend on these drops.”
The logistics of a country with high mountain ranges and not many roads relies on air mobility. The supply challenges in Afghanistan are met every week by the Soldiers, pilots and other service members of the U.S. military.