CPT Kenneth L. Stanten & CW2 Martin J. Neises
The mission of the 21st Support Command is to provide logistical support to the U.S. Army European Theater of Operation. Within the 21st Support Command, the 5th Quartermaster (QM) Detachment is USAREUR's only asset for providing aerial delivery support. This relatively small U.S. Army unit has a theater wide responsibility which in the past year has seen it fulfill lengthy support commitments to units in Italy and England as well as all stops in between.
Based in Kaiserslautern, Germany, riggers from the 5th QM are often deployed to five or six locations simultaneously while supporting requirements of the rest of the theater. TDY is their way of life. An integral part of the 66th Maintenance Battalion, which in turn is part of the geographically widespread 29th Logistical Area Support Group, 5th Quartermaster soldiers are responsible for a varied mission menu.
The detachment's most visible mission is providing for the airdrop of supplies and equipment to all USAREUR units during training or in any future conflict. The detachment has a TOE capability of 50 short tons a day. 5th QM is also charged with providing personnel parachute support to Pathfinder Platoons and Special Operations Command, Europe, and maintaining the MJK-5 ejection seat parachute system for all OV-1 Mohawk reconnaissance aircraft in the theater.
Semiannually the detachment sends 15 personnel to Burtonwood Army Depot in England. There they perform in-storage inspections on some $25 million worth of operational project stocks of aerial delivery equipment. Biannually, another team of 1 5 soldiers inspects Prepositioned Material Configured to Unit Sets (POMCUS) at Burtonwood. At several locations in the European theater, 5th QM soldiers are called on to prerig supplies for use in contingency and exercise operations by tactical units. This relatively new mission stretches the abilities of the detachment and is a welcome challenge to the riggers.
In accomplishing its primary mission during fiscal year 1987, the detachment provided 77 Container Delivery System (CDS) airdrops, five Low Velocity Platform (LVP) airdrops, and four Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES) airdrops to V and VII Corps units. These drops took place during major corps and division training exercises and battalion ARTEPS. These airdrops provided combat units vital supplies and equipment -- MREs, bulk fuel, water, repair parts, and chemical clothing -- literally at their tent opening.
REFORGER 87 provided the 5th Quartermaster opportunity to demonstrate its close working relationship with its Reserve Component sister units, the 421st Airdrop Supply Company (ASC), USAR, of Fort Valley, Georgia. and the 431st Airdrop Equipment Repair Company (AERC), USAR, of Lake Station, Indiana. The three units train together annually so that if required, the transition period to full combat capability would be minimal. During REFORGER 87, 5th Quartermaster provided 56 CDS and three LAPES airdrops of bulk fuel, MREs, and T-Rations to III Corps units operating in Germany's northern corridor. The airdrop of T-Rations was a first in the European theater.
Working out of 5th QM's Kaiserslautern location during REFORGER 87, a 10 member team from the 421st ASC received and serviced airdrop equipment, rigged CDS and performed joint inspections with Air Force load masters on most of the equipment dropped. The 431st ERC followed up with a 10 man team that received airdrop equipment from the drop zone, inventoried, assigned condition codes, cleaned and returned the equipment to depot packed configuration with the documentation to put the equipment in long term storage. With a myriad of commitments across the continent, the 5th Quartermaster riggers have numerous opportunities to train with NATO airborne units. Jump wings of numerous European countries adorn the chests of these riggers, showing their willingness to increase their individual proficiency by meeting the standards of their NATO partners' airborne rating requirements. Various members of the unit have received German, Dutch, and Belgian jump wings during the past year, several qualifying for all three nations' badges.
The detachment deploys a self sufficient personnel parachute repack team to the Royal Dutch Military Academy in Breda, the Netherlands. There, they support the annual training requirements for the cadets at the academy. This past year, during an intense four days, the team repacked some 750 parachutes for the apprentice Dutch military leaders.
The unit can also participate in an annual training opportunity provided by attendance at the French Commando School in LaRousse, France. At the school, students participate in a course designed to build a soldier's self confidence and overcome fears of dangerous obstacles. 25 graduates of the Command School are currently on the unit roles and 15 are scheduled to attend training this year.
There are always challenges for the riggers from Kaiserslautern. The unit is now at work developing a training time line. This would support all major training exercises projected by V and VII Corps which would require airdrop support during a wartime scenario. The detachment is working to strengthen its working relationships with the units it will support, no matter the contingency, no matter the location on the European continent. Whatever the mission, with its airborne heritage punctuated with the names of combat jumps by the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion in Algeria on 8 November 1942 to the 1 73d Airborne Brigade's 22 February 1967 jump at Katum, Vietnam, the 5th QM Detachment strives to be true to the last line of the Riggers Pledge: I will be sure--Always.
since 25 March 2001