Ohio Military National Guard carried out a combined training event wherein about 75 Ohio National Guard Troopers, including a small group of Michigan National Guard Soldiers, performed sling load activities at Camp James A. Garfield Joint Army Training Facility near Newton Falls, Ohio.
The significance of sling load activities is to resupply units in a more robust method rather than using ground units.
“When it comes to it, if we can’t get a truck in, we can load up anything we wish to and hook it up to a helicopter and fly it in,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Jarkewicz, a company sergeant with Firm A, 237th Support Battalion in Cleveland. “We can carry water, food, or any equipment we require during a natural disaster response.”
National Guard Troopers practiced preparing and rigging a variety of military equipment and vehicles before hooking them to CH-47 Chinook helicopters and watching them carry off.
“Everybody is involved and getting good training,” said Sgt. Kevin Fowler, an instructor and a squad chief with Company A, 237th Support Battalion. “That is the first time we’ve performed training at this scale, with this many units. It offers Troopers an opportunity to get involved.”
All of the instructors are organic to the Ohio Army National Guard, bringing expertise learned via coaching and experience back to their units.
The coaching culminated in multiple CH-47s circling overheads, with Troopers hooking up vans and howitzers, struggling against the bang of the downdraft put out by the two large helicopter rotors on each plane.
The Ohio National Guard has utilized this expertise in response to various natural disasters, including transporting turbines and equipment to areas of Puerto Rico destroyed by Hurricane Maria, supplies to flooded areas of Texas, and areas struck by tornados in Ohio.