Thirty-five U.S. paratroopers from the 82 nd Airborne Divisions quick reaction force — cheeks, foreheads and necks slathered in green-brown camouflage paint — jumped into Poland Tuesday in a tightly day sequence that lasted merely 22 seconds.
They were in the lead airliner of six C-1 7s that fell more than 400 Americans in a simultaneous operation with Polish and British paratroopers to indicate the friends could deter an assertive Russia after President Vladimir Putins seizure of Crimea and intervention in Ukraine. Its being run in combination with a major Polish land exert called Exercise Anakonda.
Flying 10 hours into clear skies after a cloudy takeoff from Pope Field in North Carolina, the Americans followed their division commander, Major General Richard Clarke, who was first to parachute into the drop-off zone near Tolun, Poland. Fell from 1,000 feet( 305 meters ), it took him about 50 seconds to hit the ground.
If you think about running across the Atlantic Ocean and hitting a drop-off zone, basically hitting it within five seconds of our planned arrival period, its pretty darn good, told Air Force Colonel Jimmy Canlas, vice commander of the C-1 7 transport wing at Charleston, South Carolina, who helped scheme the complex mission with Clarke.
The paratroopers of the 82 nd Airborne Divisions Global Response Force took off from North Carolina late on June 6 — a storied date for the unit that helped liberate France in the Normandy invasion that began on that day in 1944. The airliners conducted aerial refueling en route from accompanying KC-1 0 and KC-1 35 tankers.
Second Lieutenant Josh Altman was on Clarkes plane, inducing his 15 th leap. He was the last man out in the second of two lines exiting the planes two doors.
Ill be focused on my piece and on making a strong exit, the 25 -year-old Altman, of Canton, Georgia, said before hoisting about 133 pounds of combat equipment onto his 160 -pound frame. Focusing meant keeping eyes on the safety officer, elbows together, legs straight and knees locked for the jump.
As members of the 82 nds 1st brigade currently assigned to the Global Response Force reached the drop-off zone near Torun, the U.S.s 173 rd Airborne Brigade jumped near Swidwin, Poland. Both actions were intended to demonstrate the friends ability to respond to a crisis scenario from staging basis in both Europe and the U.S. within 18 hours of notification, according to an Army statement.
One goal of the multinational exert was to practice securing a bridge crossing the Vistula River, clearing a route for the U.S. Armys 2nd Cavalry Regiment to intersect on its way to developing maneuvers in the Baltics.
For the 82 nd, the exert is designed to evaluate the readiness of the Global Response Force to operate alongside a high-readiness force in Europe involving a blended air and ground force of more than 5,000, according to a briefing chart.
Although the leap ran smoothly, the mission was marred from the beginning because three of the nine planned C-1 7s never left North Carolina. One was downed by matters that surfaced in a pre-flight check upkeep, another by an engine malfunction on the runway before takeoff. A third couldnt take off because it trailed the downed transport.
Despite those results, the C-1 7 has a very, the highest reliability rate so it was kind of unique that this all happened in a period crunch, Canlas said.
But it meant that 207 of the planned 620 paratroopers bided behind in North Carolina. The 82 nds deputy division commander and a brigade commander missed the exert, as did a British commander who was traveling with the Americans. Only one of a planned four British and U.S. howitzers was fallen, according to officials.
The international exert was a response to a fictional scenario in which Estonia invokes its collective-defense right under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after menaces from the make-believe nations of Bothnia and Torrike, which have significant military capabilities and the political will to consider the use of force, according to a planning document.
Were the nations 911 force, Major General Clarke said in an interview after receiving an advance briefing on the operation.
Under the scenario, a brigade leap with pre-packed pallets of munitions, rations, weapons and communications gear. If, for example, intelligence picked up signs of foe armor, the force would jump with hand-carried Javelin antitank weapons.
The U.S. Army plans to bolster its ground-based presence in Europe next year with the long-term deployment of its best armor, tank-killing helicopters and infantry vehicles capable of destroying Russian armored personnel carriers.
The service also has been retooling its training forces to role-play as Russian troops utilizing tactics they might use in assaults against Ukraines military, including cyberwarfare.
The 82 nds paratroopers dropped into Poland a new piece of equipment intended to increase the mobility of troops who traditionally stroll after hitting the ground — All-Terrain Vehicles made by Polaris Industries Inc.
These vehicles significantly enhance what would otherwise be foot mobility, Brigadier General Brian Winski, deputy commander of the 82 nd, said in an e-mail. They change the dynamic and turn what would have been a 3 mile-per-hour operation into a 50 mile-per-hour operation.