By Sgt. Cody Barber, 11th Public Affairs DetachmentApril 18, 2014
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo (April 15, 2014) -- Ending what has been over a decade-long absence, Multinational Battle Group-East paratroopers took to the skies in Kosovo, April 15.
Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, conducted airborne jumps to maintain jumper proficiency, said Lt. Col. John Cogbill, commander of 2-38 Cavalry Squadron and MNBG-E's Forward Command Post.
"Conducting airborne operations is an inherently high-risk mission," said Cogbill, a native of Richmond, Va. "It's one of those things where practice makes perfect and the more repetitions we can get, the better we become."
The exercise started at daybreak, when Soldiers checked their gear, tightened straps and prepared themselves before conducting multiple jumps via static line out of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter into the brisk morning air at Camp Bondsteel.
The paratroopers enjoyed the chance to stay proficient in their airborne skills while being deployed. Cogbill was one of the first paratroopers putting his knees in the breeze at the drop zone, and he said it was a very successful jump for him and his troops.
"We threw a couple streamers out to make sure we had the spot right and then we went for it," said Cogbill. "We hit the drop zone and walked away from it, so we are happy."
Also attending the airborne exercise was Muharrem Svarqa, the mayor of Ferizaj, the closest major city to Camp Bondsteel. He said watching the jump was a great experience for him.
"It's very exciting for us to see these kind of events that we don't usually get a chance to see," said Svarqa. "I'm very thankful that we were invited to attend the event where the U.S. Soldiers demonstrated their military skills and abilities."
First Sgt. William Hutson, senior enlisted adviser for Company C, 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, was on the drop zone and watched his troops make the jumps. He was glad to see his troops learning and training.
"We just took this opportunity to bring our jumpmasters down here, set up the drop zone and survey it," said Hutson, a native of Pearland, Texas. "We ran through some rehearsals and got everyone on par as far as what everyone needs to know and came out here to execute the jump."
The troopers weren't the only ones who received training for the day. Aviation crews from the battle group's Southern Command Post got in on the action as well.
"We are always looking for opportunities to train," said Lt. Col. George Barton, Southern Command Post commander, and a native of West Jordan, Utah. "When the Forward Command Post suggested that we start doing paratrooper drops, we were excited to do it because it's a common mission for us to do as Black Hawk pilots."
Although the unit conducts intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations according to U.S. Army doctrine in support of III Corps, it's important to keep the parachuting skills sharp, even though this is a peacekeeping mission, added Cogbill.
At least once a month the cavalry unit plans on conducting airborne exercises in Kosovo to maintain their airborne status.