MOPTI, Mali – U.S. service members traveled to Africa to meet with troops from six partner nations who are sharing their knowledge of aerial resupply and recovery of as part of exercise Atlas Accord 12 in Mali.
Members of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) conducted pathfinder training to locate suitable drop zones, cleared the area to ensure the safety of locals, marked the drop zones for the aircraft and recovered supplies.
“The training was really interesting,” said Malian army Sgt. Oumar Traore, as airborne infantryman.
“The 19th SFG taught us to set-up the operational readiness platform, to send out reconnaissance patrols, and establish security at the drop zone. We’ve learned how to conduct these operations under any circumstances. This exercise also helps us work with troops from other nations,” he said.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Dane C. Eital, an operator with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 19th SFG (Abn.) agreed.
“The training has been going very well. We’ve been learning from them as much as they’ve been learning from us,” said the Chico, Calif. native. U.S. Army Capt. Bob V. Luthor from Huntington, W. Va., a team leader with Company C, 2nd Bn., 19th SFG (Abn.) chimed in, “The participants were very attentive and we were able to show them our tactics and see theirs as well. It’s been great to see troops from all these nations come together to get the ‘mission’ accomplished.”
There have been challenges, but the Malians were very resourceful, Luther continued. They removed a second set of pilot flight controls from one of the smaller aircraft to fit the supplies and personnel to drop them.
The focus of the exercise was to deliver supplies to people who may not have access to normal supply lines due to natural disasters or other difficult circumstances, Eital said.
The pathfinder training during Atlas Accord 12 can potentially help future joint operations between partner nations to deliver humanitarian supplies safely to those in need.