AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy - The Army is an evolving field that requires constant adaptation and doing so requires training on a daily basis. No one knows more about that than command sergeants major, first sergeants and master sergeants who lead the Army as senior non-commissioned officers setting the standard for future generations of Soldiers.
The U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade, along with the Italian army's 4th Alpini Parachutist Regiment and the Israeli army's Airborne and Special Units Command, conducted a combined leader professional development in-flight rig, Nov. 9, 2015, in order to mentor Soldiers and build cohesion during airborne operations.
Led by the brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Clark, the in-flight rig was set to challenge each senior leader both physically and mentally, and it demonstrated how they could incorporate the airborne training into their battalion's weekly training regimen.
"Leader professional development is an important aspect of what we do as senior leaders," said Clark. "The in-flight rig is just another opportunity to improve ourselves and take that training down to the lowest level and to develop future leaders."
The first day leaders gathered at the Personnel Alert Holding Area at Aviano Air Base for discussion and familiarization with the new modular airborne weapons case that is being tested to replace the military airborne parachutist M-1950 weapons case.
The following day, leaders were retrained on sustained airborne training, rigging and jumpmaster pre-inspection.
"It wasn't too long ago that paratroopers from 509th out of Alaska traveled over 17 hours from their home base to jump into Thailand. That is why an in-flight rig was designed, so that paratroopers can bring all their gear with them on an aircraft and buddy assist each other with donning their T-11 parachutes," said U.S. Army jumpmaster Staff Sgt. Thomas Bryant assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment.
Besides testing on new equipment, each event during the LPD was set to challenge, educate and build cohesion, said Thomas.
"This exercise isn't just a jump. It's also a proficiency test in order to make ourselves more sharp and to provide that capability, we need to do this more often. The next in flight-rig our senior leaders will be trained and ready to train and lead their soldiers down at the battalions and company level," said Bryant.
Most if not all paratroopers that took part in the exercise were jumpmasters. The mix of paratroopers from the U.S., Italian and Israeli armies created an opportunity to learn from each other's nation.
"The relationship between all the separate armies for us is important because as jumpmasters it's important to learn from our NATO counterparts. We learn from the Italians, we learn from the Americans and we take all of this training back to our country," said Israeli Master Sgt. Roi Piro, an instructor for the Israeli Airborne and Special Units Command.
"The Americans have been using this type of parachute for over four years now and for us the T-11 is a new system," said Piro. "What we're doing out here is important so if we see something that may be better for our jumpers then we can take it back to the school to train our soldiers."
Italian army Sgt. Stefano Buogo from the Alpini Reg., agrees that the training being conducted is a great opportunity to learn from each of the nations involved in the exercise.
"We're training with the Americans today to learn and to see if our capabilities are the same," said Buogo. "It's a great opportunity for us to see this kind of training because it allows us to understand our allies better."
With the culmination of an airborne jump, the leaders return their home stations spread across Italy and Germany with the intent of improving readiness in their respective battalions. The end goal is to continue to build upon already resilient paratroopers who are able to execute when called.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, capable of projecting forces to conduct the full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Commands areas of responsibility.