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Cactass

OP Broken Home II: Helo Gun Run Lessions Learned. (Suggestions)

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Hello Gun Runners!

 

I have the honor to again this year be your friendly crew chief for helicopter operations.

 

I just wanted to pass on some lessons learned from last year in an effort to help you, the operator.

 

1) First off, start thinking about your gear.

 

- As many of you learned last year there is not a whole lot of extra space on-board the bird. Not only that but seat belts must be worn during flight, and the belts were not designed with the kitted out operator in mind. So things like bulky hydration packs, backpacks, or go-bags are not going to serve you well. They are going to limit your mobility, slow you ingress and egress from the craft, and generally be a huge pain in your ass. So think about slimming your gear down for a gun run. That said here are some things that I feel you will need.

      - Some kind of dump pouch. (Mag retention isn't just cost saving, its safety for people below you!)

      - A 1 point sling of some kind. (Safety as mentioned above, but they also allow for better mobility when leaning out for hard to make shots. Its much easier to do with a 1 point VS a 2 or 3 point sling.)

     

- Head room is at a premium. For the shorter operator this isn't a huge deal, but taller operators with tall headgear may find themselves clipping the top of their helmets (or whatever is on top of them) on the door frame entering and exiting the craft.

 

- For those doing Infill/Exfil, time is not your friend. We can only fit 3 operators per flight in the back of the bird. The longer it takes to get you safety loaded and unload from the bird is time the enemy has to recognize that there is an infill/exfil taking place, and time for them to start moving on your position. That's more time that your squad is exposed. I understand that you will need all the gear on the field, and that slimming your loadout is not really feasible. Instead, I recommend removing it and hand carrying it onto the bird with you, if its a backpack that pretty easy. If you have a huge hydration pack attached to your plate carrier, shuck the carrier till you land.

 

2) Hearing protection.

 

- The Helo is going to be LOUD. While ear protection is not required, I personally recommend it. Some operators chose to run noise canceling headphone (IE: Peltors) and that should work just fine. Another cheaper alternative is foam inserts, pop them in before you board, and throw them in a pocket when you land. They take up little to no space and cost very little.

 

3) Shade/Sunscreen/Hydration

 

- Unfortunately it is cost prohibitive to run 2 or more helicopters at these events. (When I win the lotto tomorrow ill see about bringing out another helo.) It is also unfortunate that riding in a helo at one of these events is pretty god damn awesome, because there are generally a lot of operators who have signed up, and we the crew are dedicated to making sure that the gun runs are pretty awesome for everyone. Unfortunately this means that there is sometimes a bit of wait time at the LZ. The bird requires a bit of open space to land in; so the LZ is probably going to be in the middle of one of the large open fields there at D-Day. There is probably going to be little to no shade at or even relatively close to the LZ, and knowing OK weather, on both days it is probably going to be a bright sunny 90+ degree temperature. Sun exposure like this is going to dry you out, and burn the unprotected. So while I don't recommend taking the large hydration bags onto the bird, having one at the LZ will keep you hydrated so that after your run is completed you will still be in fighting shape to rejoin your squad.

          - You might also consider bringing you MRE meals with you, and using the downtime to chow down and keep your energy up.

 

4) Force Multiplication.

 

Anyone who has been to one of these events can tell you that the helicopter is pure hell for the guys on the ground. If you have a gun run, I suggest working with your command to try to coordinate your run with a push. If your foe is busy dodging helicopter gunners they probably are not as busy shooting at your mates on the ground. Those mates, will appreciate the help. Figure out when your command wants to push, and get in line early. Its easy to let a group behind you in line go first, but otherwise we will be taking the Gun runs in order of people arriving for them. (That being said, we may be required from time to time to run an infil/exfil in the middle of the line up as they take MUCH less time to complete)

 

 

These are just my observations from last year. If anyone else has any tips they would like to pass on feel free to do so.

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Sure Joe,
 
D-Day is HUGE!
 
The place is gigantic, fighting from town to town all day both days is going to be HELL. Even for those who are in peak physical condition, this place is going to kick ass.   So what you need to be conscious about is weight management. I don't necessarily mean your personal weight, but being in good shape will help you as well.
 
What I am talking about is equipment weight management.  You as a support operator have a huge ass heavy gun that you will be carrying around all day. This is going to suck, its going to be heavy your going to get tired, but your team will thank you for your efforts. So you need to think about how to make it suck less for you. My biggest recommendation for this is to slim down on what you take onto the field. You need to concentrate on essentials. Ammo, water, and communications.  That's pretty much it, all the extra BS you need to either leave at the cars, or push off onto the guy on your squad packing an ity-bity SMG. Share the weight! 
 
Second thing to consider is heat management. Big weight will make you tired, big heat will make you exhausted and combat ineffective. I haven't checked the forecast yet because in Oklahoma it only has to be correct 1% of the time to be considered accurate, but my predictions say its going to be a hot one this year. That being said you as an operator need to think about what you can do to beat the heat.
 
Step 1. Be conscious of how you are dressed. Make sure that the BDU set you have isn't a winter weight set. (If you look close at a summer weight set it will have almost a checker looking pattern in the fabric.) If you can afford it I recommend the combat shirts. They protect the arms while keeping lighter better breathing material covering your core. If you cannot, and you don't mind modifying your BDU set I have heard it suggested to cut 3 inch vents in the armpits of your BDU's to allow better airflow in a high heat areas. (Take it to a tailor they will do a pro job that wont allow the vents to continue to rip and destroy your top).
 
Step 2. Be conscious of your gear. Plate carriers don't allow for a lot of airflow. Think about the gear you will be wearing onto the field. Something like an OTV vest that completely encapsulates the core area is probably going to be a bad idea because it is going to trap a lot of heat.
 
Step 3. Hydrate! If you start hydrating Saturday, your going to have a bad time. I would recommend starting your hydration no later then next Tuesday, and cutting out excess (Beer, soda, moonshine) no later then Weds.
 
Step 4. Manage your heat. If you are pulling sentry somewhere stay out of direct sunlight if you can. There are several products that you can get that will help with this as well. Google Neck Cooling Scarf. I have used one in the past and LOVED it. 
 
Step 5. Keep your energy up. I like Cliff Bars, but really any kind of healthy low sugar snack should be able accomplish this.
 
 

So in review.

1.Manage Weight

2. Manage Heat

3. Manage Hydration

4. Manage Energy

 

Do these things and hopefully your day will suck less. :D

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Bought a damn 20lb+ VN M60 just for this. I plan on emptying the box mag at least once!

 

I experienced the helo last year and my advice is to heed Cactass' advice! It's ALL true.

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Still haven't heard back on this.... what is the plan with the helo during adverse weather exactly...?

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Hey Metal,

 

The short answer is the helo will only fly when the pilot deems it safe to do so. 

 

That being said, Torrential Rain, Hail, and local lightning will obviously ground the bird.

 

Right now we can only cross our fingers and hope for decent weather.

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Currently the only chance of rain is Sunday evening @40% after the game has concluded. We're looking at low to mid 80's for the weekend. Think we have dodged a bullet this year.

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