AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy - Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the French 11th Parachutist Brigade conducted a partnered airborne operation into Juliet Drop Zone, Pordenone, Italy, Oct. 16, 2015.
On October 13, a contingent from the French 35th Parachute Artillery Regiment (RAP), 11th Parachutist Brigade arrived in Vicenza, Italy, in order for a week of combined training, culminating with the nighttime airborne operation over Juliet Drop Zone.
"Combined airborne operations are critical to increasing French and American interoperability in NATO operations," said French Lt. Col. Fabrice Chapuy, duty commander, 35th RAP. "We look forward to continuing to train with our Sky Soldier partners in the future."
While focusing on developing partnered proficiency with American parachuting equipment, the mission also helped to develop and increase the bond and mutual trust required to work with each other.
"The paratroopers from the French 11th Parachutist Brigade are great tactical partners to work with," said U.S. Capt. Marc Levitt, commander, Company C, 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion. "This type of combined training gives NATO and Europe a ready, rapidly-deployable force."
Following completion of the airborne operation, the paratroopers gathered on the drop zone to conduct a parachute badge ceremony where the French paratroopers received the American parachutist badge.
For some paratroopers, the exchange was more than just a set of wings and certificates.
"When someone pins foreign wings on you, they are more than just another paratrooper," said French 1st Lt. Margann Sureau, 35th RAP. "They become a part of your airborne family."
Last May, paratroopers from the 54th BEB traveled to Tarbes, France, at the invitation of the 35th RAP. French jumpmasters trained the American paratroopers on their tactics, techniques and procedures and the combined paratroopers then conducted an airborne operation together in Pau, France
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the U.S. Army contingency force in Europe, providing ready forces anywhere in the U.S., European, Africa and Central Commands areas of responsibility within 18 hours.