By Sgt. A.M. LaVeySeptember 16, 2015
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy-U.S. and Hungarian paratroopers conducted a combined emergency deployment readiness exercise, Sept. 14, 2015, as part of Exercise Brave Warrior, a combined joint forcible entry exercise into Gyor, Hungary.
As the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, the 173rd Airborne Brigade has a rotating element that is always standing by, ready to deploy at a moment's notice.
In order to maintain this high state of readiness, the brigade has near constant training exercises so that its paratroopers will be ready should a call come.
One of the ways that these paratroopers are tested is through the use of an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise, or EDRE, which engages the 18-hour sequence with no notice.
"We do these types of exercises to test our readiness and to maintain our readiness for real-world notification," said Capt. Will Ryan, an operational planning officer with 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. "We never know whether or not this is an exercise, so each time we receive a notification like this, we expect it to be real -this adds to a heighten sense of alertness without our unit."
Paratroopers from the Company B, 1st Bn. were put through the test when they received a predawn notification on Sept. 15, 2015.
"We got the call at 4 a.m. and marshaled in our battalion area," said Ryan. "We immediately conducted troops leading procedures, loaded transportation and moved to Aviano Air Base. Upon arrival we continued our planning process and began preparation for the airborne operation."
The paratroopers received an order from the U.S. European Command in support of Exercise Dragoon Crossing, to liaise with Hungarian paratroopers from the 88th Light Mixed Battalion, 25th Infantry Brigade, Hungarian Defense Forces. The two forces were to conduct a combined airborne assault into Gyor-Per airport and then a 15-kilometer tactical road march to secure a bridgehead on the southern bank of the Mosoni-Duna river, in preparation for U.S. troops to cross into Hungary.
Approximately 500 Soldiers from the U.S. 4th Infantry Division and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment are conducting 800 kilometer vehicle road march using nearly 40 Stryker Combat Vehicles along with 70 support vehicles from Rose Barracks, Germany through the Czech and Slovak Republics, ending with a combined U.S. and Hungarian exercise in Hungary.
"Training and coordination with our European allies, along with U.S. elements from the 2nd Cav. Regt. is paramount to conducting these types of combined operations," said Ryan. "Working with different forces certainly adds a certain level of complexity to our operations, but getting together in times like these, we can make sure we have a greater understanding of our goals and combined mission."
Once the U.S. and Hungarian paratroopers arrive at the bridge site they will secure the site, so that military engineers can conduct bridging operations, allowing the vehicles to cross the river.
The Hungarian paratroopers from the 88th Light Mixed Bn., have a history with the 173rd, training with the brigade most recently in a combined airfield seizure in Exercise Warlord Rock, in Papa, Hungary, earlier this year. During this exercise and last, the Hungarians deployed with the 173rd from Aviano Air Base, in order to conduct face-to-face combined planning and become more proficient with U.S. parachutes equipment.
"Our cooperation with the 173rd Airborne is the very best," said Hungarian 1st Lt. Balazs Kiss, a platoon leader with the 88th. "Each time we train together, it's a benefit for us all, because we're already familiar with each other's tactics, techniques and procedures -we don't have to learn everything anew - we just go out and conduct our mission."
The 173rd Airborne, forwardly-positioned in Vicenza, Italy, is a unique unit in Europe and in the U.S. Army.
"As the only airborne brigade combat team in Europe, we bring our unique airborne capabilities to Europe and the U.S European Command," said Capt. Adam Putman, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 173rd Brigade Support Battalion. "This a huge capability that we bring to the table, especially compared to units that are based in the states - we take 8 hours off the flight time to react - we can be there quicker."