Our man on the scene sent some pics and words.
The US Army is conducting the largest multinational airborne exercise in recent history, Exercise Swift Response 15, in which a multinational Task Force formed and led by the First (Devil) Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division is conducting a Joint Forcible Entry (JFE) into the notional country of Atropia at the Hohenfels Training Area’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center. The Task Force includes airborne infantry battalions from the United States (Task Force Geronimo), Italy (Task Force Folgare) and Germany (Task Force Cerberus) and attached platoons and companies from Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, and Poland. The jump today by portions of TF Devil was preceded by elements of Task Force Bayonet, from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the remainder of TF Devil jumping into Romania and Bulgaria. Elements of Task Force Ranger have used the previous nights to destroy simulated air defense threats to open a corridor to allow the JFE to occur within a permissive environment. For the next several days, TF Devil will fight Violent Atropian Separatists (disloyal members of the armed forces of the friendly nation of Atropia) as well as elements of the Shahid Brigade, which is a transnational terrorist organization. In the course of their mission, they will be also be tasked to conduct two Noncombat Evacuation Operations (NEO) in conjunction with the state department.
Pretty complex. The Army sees a future war where they’re simultaneously fighting organized military elements, and insurgent terrorist organizations. They have to both conduct maneuver warfare, and provide stability in wide areas. To say that it requires a good deal of mental agility to be able to conduct both is and understatement. To do both simultaneously is a great challenge.
Let’s add to that the fact that airborne operations bear inherent risk. Of about 900 troops dropped yesterday, thirty-seven were injured. Most injuries were of a very minor nature, with the troops expected to return to duty within a day or two. Interestingly, about 2/3 of the injuries were to our allied airborne partners. Why the smaller allied units had more injuries, we don’t know.
What we do know is, that’s very much in line with the historical norm for injuries in airborne operations. Kind of makes me glad I was a leg.