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MSU Helicopter Training

By Capt. Luis Barber
First published in
SFOR Informer#102, December 6, 2000

Sarajevo - From Oct. 30, 2000 to Feb. 1, 2001 at Archer Base, Butmir, Multinational Specialised Unit (MSU) companies are carrying out both cold and hot load training with Operational Reserve (Air) helicopters. The aim is to better prepare these units for rapid and safe air movement and to maintain rapid reaction force coverage across BiH to guarantee a peaceful and stable environment.
This way, they will become familiar not only with helicopter emergency procedures, but also with the air movement load planning and proper loading and unloading of Operational Reserve (Air) utility helicopters.
Companies are rotating through training during duty at their base, Butmir 2. On a weekly basis, every Friday, two or three platoons are taking part in the training throughout the day.
Italian Capt. Cristiano Desideri, is the Alpha Company commander, a company comprised of three Carabinieri and one Romanian platoon. According to him, they had the chance to improve their special training. “By helicopter we can reach the places in trouble earlier and better than by road. Only in one hour we will be able to deploy everywhere in BiH,” he explained.
The UH-60L “Blackhawk,” the American helicopter in the Operational Reserve (Air), is the aircraft used. It is able to carry 11 soldiers with seats or 20 without seats.
1Lt. Radu Prisecaru, platoon leader of the Romanian platoon in MSU, said that all his military policemen have got experience with helicopters, “But only with Romanian ones, so training with American helicopters will be different,” he commented.
Before starting every session, a member of the helicopter crew meets the personnel in training and reviews the safety issues. Some of the most common rules are the safest way to approach and leave the helicopter at a 90-degree angle from the nose, to avoid the tail rotor. They also receive a briefing about how to manage inside and outside the helicopter and how to react to emergencies. Seats, seatbelts, how to open and close the doors, are some of the things explained to these policemen. Moreover, they review in flight hand and arm signals, basically consisting of time to get to the LZ (landing zone), check equipment and execute the exit or entrance.
The “Chalk Leader,” who is the person responsible for loading and unloading every aircraft, usually the platoon leader, designates a soldier to open and close the door of the helicopter.
Then, the static load training starts. During it, the main goal to achieve is that all soldiers can load the aircraft in two minutes and unload it within 30 seconds. They try it several times and when they understand, the next phase begins.
Platoons load the helicopters and fly to another area. Helicopters land and platoons dismount from the aircraft in the same way they did during the cold training at their base. Upon exit of the helicopter, soldiers, wearing their antiriot equipment, including the shield, move directly to the target.
This activity is not new for Carabiniere Valentino Arillo, but he thinks that it will be fun for those beginners. He said, “For sure, this training will be in benefit of our work.”
Despite the big shield they have to take with them, “It is not a problem because we manage pretty well,” continued Arillo.
Carabiniere 1Lt. Giuseppe Vecchia will train for some weeks. “The MSU has very intensive training. This will be another way to take part in operations in conjunction with other armies, which is the normal way of working in our unit,” said Vecchia.
The coordinator in MSU is 1Lt. Florin Vlad, Romanian Army, who works in G-3 Training. In his opinion, things are running well. “I hope this training will go on as it has started, because it is very interesting and useful. Anyone can ask for our intervention any time and any place, and now we will do it even faster,” he commented.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy, US, Romania
Training and Exercises
Helicopters of SFOR