COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-Soldiers buckled themselves into the seats lining the inside of the C-17 while elbowing each other for space. The flight was short but they shared it with 19-ton Strykers strapped down by gleaming chains at their feet.
With the assistance from Airmen of the 21st Airlift Squadron, Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, flew to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, with Strykers from Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 21, 2015.
The Soldiers deployed to the major training area located in the Mojave Desert to act as the opposing force for visiting military unit training.
The C-17 Globemaster III is known for being able to rapidly deploy troops and cargo all over the world but this validation exercise confirmed the "Raider" brigade's ability to extend the range of any Colorado based Stryker unit.
"We're creating the standard operating procedures and relationships that are going to make us successful for when we might need to rapidly deploy," said Capt. Trey Van Whye, current operations planner, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "The crucial thing is knowing that the first time we're doing this is under conditions that we've set. We've done static load training to prepare for this but most importantly we're working with joint inspection teams from Peterson Air Force Base."
Capt. Saj El-Amin, aircraft commander/pilot, 21st Airlift Squadron, said that the C-17 Globemaster III, the second largest cargo jet in the Air Force, isn't just restricted to runways for take-offs and landings.
"It could be a very tactical, high stress environment where heavy vehicles need to be moved in or out at any given moment," said El-Amin. "The capabilities of the Stryker combined with those of our jet can have a really dynamic effect on any mission."
Pvt. Canyon Ririe, infantryman, Company C, 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div., arrived to Fort Carson a couple weeks ago as a brand new Soldier and said he was surprised to find out he could rapidly deploy.
"We can get called up, all of our gear is ready and we can deploy anywhere in 18 hours," said Ririe, a native of Phoenix. "At first I didn't know what to think about it but with help from my leaders I've definitely gotten more ready than I would have alone."
The 1st SBCT was formed to be an expeditionary force capable of rapid deployment which meets the original concept of the Stryker platform as envisioned by former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki.
"We must provide early entry forces that can operate jointly, without access to fixed forward bases, but we still need the power to slug it out and win decisively," said Shinseki in 1999. "Today, our heavy forces are too heavy and our light forces lack staying power. We will address those mismatches."