VICENZA, Italy--Senior noncommissioned officers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade conducted leader development training studying World War II's Operation Anvil in southern France, Sept. 23-27, 2015.

"A staff ride is a training event that allows a group of leaders to study a historic battle, then apply those lessons learned in their own careers," said 1st Sgt. Fred Adams, of Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade, who served as the lead planner of the event.

Operation Anvil, renamed to Dragoon, was an allied invasion of southern France on Aug. 15, 1944 in the Gulf of Leon, east of Marseilles. The operation involved amphibious landings and airborne assaults, which along with the previous Operation Neptune is known as D-Day, an event that allowed the allies to push the German army out of France.

Before the event, each participant was assigned reading material to assist in their ability to functionally analyze both friendly and enemy performances across the battlefield. A combat leadership workshop was then held that included a historian who administered blocks of instruction while discussing the operation for its strategic context, in order for the NCOs to better understand the operation's key participants.

"Our guide used the battlefield as a laboratory where the lessons were truly revealed," said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Edwards, senior enlisted adviser for the 173rd's 4th Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment. "As we walked over the battlefield, we got closer to understanding the human dimension of war - especially in an airborne operation capacity. We could see how weather and terrain weighed into commanders' decisions and guidance."

With the 173rd being forwardly-positioned in Europe, it has the ability to capitalize on many opportunities study earlier battles, and allows the American paratroopers to appreciate their military history and to appreciate it.

"The staff ride is a versatile educational tool," said Edwards. "In a general sense, its sole purpose is to further the professional development of U.S. Army leaders. As a senior leader, I have used this event to further develop my most battery first sergeants in order to give them a complete understanding of combined arms operations."

The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe and is capable of deploying ready forces to conduct the full range of military operations across the U.S. European, Africa and Central Commands' areas of operations within 18 hours.