By ANIESA HOLMESAugust 28, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Aug. 28, 2013) -- More than 60 Airborne Soldiers from the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the Maneuver Center of Excellence and partner nation instructors from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation participated in the newly reinstated Foreign Wing Exchange Program on Aug. 19.
Spearheaded by MCoE Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello, the program was conducted by El Salvador jump master Capt. Jose Molina from WHINSEC. Molina led Soldiers through sustained airborne training and conducted jump master refresher and observer actions in the aircraft during an airborne operation at Fryar Drop Zone. Molina executed all commands in Spanish while a Spanish speaking 507th cadre jump master gave commands in English.
"My main goal (was) to get 64 paratroopers jumping out of the plane with my commands given in the air and ensure that it (was) a good, safe jump," Molina said.
With several hundred students representing 36 countries at WHINSEC, Carabello said the program demonstrates the importance of ongoing partnerships between the U.S. and its allies.
"As (liaison officers) come from other countries, they are supposed to get the best possible experience that we can provide about what the Army is all about," Carabello said. "It shows other nations how we conduct airborne operations, and it shows us that they also have the capability to do this."
At the end of the jump, a wing exchange ceremony was held at the drop zone. Carabello said many LNOs are qualified jump masters and express pride in seeing American Soldiers wearing their jump wings. The program has previously conducted a wing exchange with the United Kingdom and will extend to Germany and other countries in the future, he said.
"All of the Soldiers (were) fired up about it, not only because they get a set of foreign jump wings, but they're excited to see the initiative of partnering with our allies," he said. "They see these guys as they walk on post with skills and abilities that are commensurate with what they have as well."
Molina said that the program provided a rewarding and educational experience for both countries.
"I feel really happy coming here to this country and sharing all of my knowledge with the United States Army," Molina said. "I really hope this (was) great experience for all of us."