SFC Brock Jones
Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces soldiers attach a
wing to a copter box aerial delivery system at
Soroti Airfield, Uganda, during Atlas Drop 11.
— U.S Army parachute
riggers assigned to the 5th Quartermaster Detachment,
21st Special Troops Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment
Command out of Kaiserslautern, Germany, and the Utah
National Guard’s 197th Special Troops Company are
currently in Soroti, Uganda, training with the Ugandan
People’s Defense Forces in support of ATLAS DROP 11.
ATLAS DROP, an annual joint aerial-delivery exercise
sponsored by U.S. Army Africa, brings together U.S.
service members with counterparts from the Ugandan
People’s Defense Forces, and is designed to enhance the
readiness of both countries’ resupply and logistical
capabilities. The two-week training from April 11-21,
will consist of classroom instruction and a field
training exercise. AD11 will increase the capability of
both UPDF and U.S. forces to resupply soldiers operating
in remote areas.
Soldiers are known for being outstanding improvisers,
doing their jobs well even under less-than-perfect
conditions. Making a mission happen no matter the
resources available is a badge of honor for soldiers of
This group of riggers has taken the spirit of
improvisation to heart in preparing parachutes for
upcoming aerial resupply missions.
During the two-week exercise the
riggers’ main role is to train with their Ugandan
counterparts on various aerial-delivery systems, more
specifically, the Low-Cost, Low-Altitude, copter box and
free-drop box systems. Not only did they learn about the
systems, they had to devise ways to effectively rig
parachutes to the systems and ensure the contents inside
remained safe upon landing.
With all the proper equipment—tables, tension devices,
weights—rigging parachutes is a rigorous task. Prepping
chutes in a dusty aircraft hangar in eastern Uganda on
old desks and cardboard proved challenging for even the
most experienced riggers.
SFC Brock Jones
SPC Winston Cartier III,
5th Quartermaster Detachment, 21st Special Troops
Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, packs a
T-10 parachute during
This is where the spirit of improvisation came into
play. They used whatever was there to ensure the
successful completion of the mission. In the end, the
chutes were packed on a makeshift packing table made of
old desks with a concrete pillar there to stabilize the
desks and act as a tie off to ensure proper tension.
Others used the pillars and cardboard, but in the end
all chutes were packed.
“Basically, what we had to do today
was improvise,” said Sgt. Roger Montanez, an Ogden, Utah
native, and parachute rigger assigned to the 197th STC,
UTARNG. “We had no packing tables; we had no packing
weights. So we had to improvise to accomplish the
mission. We set up cardboard to maintain parachute
integrity, so we don’t compromise the parachute in any
way,” he said.
Montanez, who has been rigging parachutes for 11 years,
said that regardless of circumstances, a Soldier with a
job to do has to get it done.
SFC Brock Jones
Riggers pack a T-10 parachute on a makeshift packing
Soroti Airfield in Uganda as part of Atlas Drop 11
“We did everything we could to accomplish the mission
the proper way, the safe way and the right way with what
In addition, as is the case with all training
opportunities, the riggers of AD 11 learned valuable
lessons by having to pack parachutes conditions they are
not accustomed to.
“It’s an experience that betters me as a parachute
rigger,” said Spc. Jordan Parr, a Clearfield, Utah,
native and rigger assigned to the 197th STC.
In their first full day together as a
team, the 19 riggers of AD11—11 soldiers from Germany,
seven from Utah and one from 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry
Regiment, Georgia National Guard—packed 36 T-10
parachutes for use during upcoming LCLA practice drops.
SFC Brock Jones
Roger Montaņez, 197th Special Troops Company, Utah
Guard, demonstrates how to attach the wings on a
copter box April 14.
After a day of packing chutes, the riggers began
training with their Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces
counterparts on how to prepare the aerial delivery
systems. These resupply systems provide the UPDF and
U.S. Army with the ability to resupply units operating
far from usual resupply routes and means.
“Everyone’s absorbing the knowledge really well,” said
Sgt. Aaron DeHaven a native of Marion, Ohio, and a
rigger assigned to the 5th Quartermaster Det. “But for
me personally, training with the UPDF has been very
rewarding; I’ve learned a lot.”
Whether rigging under the most difficult working
conditions or training with UPDF soldiers, the AD11
riggers have lived up to the motto they learn at rigger
school: “I will be sure always.” Next week, when the
cargo is kicked from the open doors of planes and
helicopters above drop zones north of Soroti, and the
cargo drifts safely to ground, everyone will know just
how sure they were.