By Army Sgt. Charles Brice
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 23, 2008 - Imagine being a soldier out on the border of eastern Afghanistan and your only connection to the rest of the world is a pallet of supplies on the back of a foreign helicopter. That is what it is like for coalition forces cut off and isolated throughout parts of Afghanistan. With the troops focused on combat missions, the Mesopotamia Group created "Jingle Air" to move cargo in and out of hard-to-reach locations.
Jingle Air offers helicopter services throughout Afghanistan.
The name comes from Afghanistan's popular culture. People often decorate with colors, ornaments, bells and paintings just about anything they posses, including their transportation. The trucks of Afghanistan are the most ornamented of all.
"Jingle Air is a key logistic enabler, which allows 4th Brigade, Currahee Combat Team to conduct counterinsurgency operations in an area roughly the size of West Virginia," said Army Maj. Jon Beale of 801st Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, and Combined Task Force Currahee.
With a fleet of Mi-8 HIP heavy-duty helicopters and five flight teams, Jingle Air can move up to 3.2 million pounds of cargo throughout Afghanistan, said Army Capt. James E. Fager, officer in charge of transportation and logistical operations for 801st BSB in Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan.
"Jingle Air's track record speaks for itself," said Fager, who explained the crew has conducted 20 emergency resupply missions in conjunction with supporting many areas of operations. Last month alone, Jingle Air moved 1.53 million pounds of cargo to troops out in the field and to forward operating bases throughout Afghanistan.
"The pilots of Jingle Air are very motivated to fly, and they take a personal interest in making sure the operations go well," Fager said.
Jingle Air pilots hail from different countries and nationalities. Still, they all work together toward a common goal: to ensure the cargo gets to its destination.
"Jingle Air is a force multiplier, and it allows us to move much-needed supplies and equipment," Fager said.
(Army Sgt. Charles Brice serves with the 382nd Public Affairs Detachment.)