Ft. Polk soldiers practice aircraft 'cold loading'

Alexandria, LA. (KALB) A rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center prepares troops for upcoming deployments but a lot of training happens before the unit ever steps foot in the 'Box.'

Soldiers in 2-30, 3 BCT, 10th Mountain Division exit a Chinook at the Intermediate Staging Base in Alexandria, La. (KALB)

Earlier this month, Fort Polk's own 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division got a lesson in 'cold load training' or getting on and off an aircraft as quickly and safely as possible.

Soldiers have up to three minutes to get buckled in before taking off for air assault operations. Once on the ground, they have less than a minute to exit and set up a perimeter.

"The whole idea is to have 360 security when we get off the bird to not only cover ourselves but a helicopter as well. We don't know what we're going to be facing, what type of enemy so it's really important to get on and off quickly so that we don't get hit and cause further injuries or casualties," said Sergeant James Stanton with 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment (3 BCT, 10th Mountain Division).

Ahead of their rotation at JRTC, 3BCT practiced getting on and off the CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk several times at the Intermediate Staging Base in Alexandria. Sgt. Stanton says they're weighed down by up to 120 pounds of equipment.

"It gets pretty hard, you just have to keep in mind what you're fighting for and make sure you're taking care of your buddies to your left and to your right, it just kinda helps keep you going."

Soldiers like Staff Sergeant Joshua Caldwell with the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina are helping 3 BCT train for their upcoming deployment this year. Soldiers on the ground and in the air have to be able to work together for maximum efficiency.

"If these guys don't know what they're doing and we don't know how to teach those things then it brings a factor of danger to the crews and the infantryman that we service every day."

Every soldier has to be in place and items stowed once the helicopter takes off.

"Any equipment that is loose in the aircraft or unsecured can become a missile and injure any of the occupants in the aircraft if there's a situation where we have heavy turbulence or we have a hard landing. So it's very important that they get situated in the aircraft as quickly and safely as possible."

Cold load training may seem repetitive, but mastering the basics can make all the difference whether it's at JRTC or overseas.

"Just to ensure that soldiers know what to do and what 'right' looks like whenever they're tired and stressed," said Sgt. Stanton.

News Channel 5's Lydia Magallanes will be following 3 BCT's rotation at JRTC for the rest of the month as they continue to prepare for deployment later this year.