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JAI keeps troops supplied

  • Published
  • By Rhonda Griffin
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
When ground troops need supplies, they can't just run to the corner store. Whether it's lunch, ammunition or a Humvee, the troops rely on airdrops to fill their needs. 

That's where the 43rd Operations Support Squadron's Joint Airdrop Inspection members come into play. 

The supplies and heavy equipment are prepared and loaded into large bundles, which are strapped to huge wooden platforms to be loaded into and dropped from the aircraft with the use of a parachute. These bundles must be secured a certain way, however, or disaster could strike during the airdrop. 

The members of the JAI have the responsibility to ensure all of the container delivery system and heavy equipment loads are properly rigged for the safety of the aircraft, crew and the supplies being dropped. 

"We're all about quality assurance," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Scuse, JAI member.
Working with Air Force loadmasters from Pope and crews from Fort Bragg, primarily the 82nd Airborne, Pope's inspectors check all of the rigging on outgoing loads before and after they are loaded onto the aircraft. 

They examine all aspects of the methods used to attach the load to the platform, how the loads are secured into the aircraft, and the proper function of the parachute that is attached to the bundles to be dropped. Any malfunctions found during the examination must be corrected before the bundle will be cleared for safe airdrop. 

"We not only have to ensure the supplies will reach the ground safely, but also that the load will drop from the aircraft like it is supposed to for the safety of the aircraft and its crew," said Staff Sgt. Richard Miner, JAI member. 

In order to become a JAI member, one must first be a loadmaster with a rank of E-4 or higher. 

"Then you have to go to school to become a Joint Airdrop Inspector," Sergeant Miner added. "It's an additional duty, and you are chosen for your ability." 

With a staff of 14 in the JAI office, the members stay busy with inspections. More than two million pounds of supplies, rations and heavy equipment have been dropped out of Pope since January, Sergeant Scuse said, and every bundle has to make it through the scrutiny of the JAI members before it is cleared to go. 

"I've been JAI and a tactical loader for 12 years," said Tech. Sgt. Bill Kreiling, JAI supervisor, of his crew. "They are the most knowledgeable in the Air Force, and I don't think there is anyone better than the guys I've got right now." 

Pope's JAI team recently brought home the gold at Air Mobility RODEO 2009, securing the first place trophy in the team's fourth consecutive win.