FORT HOOD, Texas (Feb. 17, 2016) -- Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division made the trip from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to a training area here to take part in an emergency deployment readiness exercise to sustain and validate their training for the global response force mission, Feb. 10.
The exercise began before sunrise as Air Force C-17 Globemasters and C-130 Hercules aircraft flew over the Fort Hood training area, dropping nearly 800 1st Brigade Combat Team paratroopers and dozens of heavy equipment pallets from 1,000 feet in the air. On landing, they began setting up a command post, creating a headquarters within hours of arrival to coordinate their movements.
The troops then assembled nearby, preparing for a day of movement and tactical exercises throughout the Fort Hood training area, including a helicopter air assault and close-quarters combat tactics. They also linked up with Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division, another global response force unit, for armor support during the operation.
Col. Colin Tuley, commander, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, said that the biggest lesson for the unit was the importance of readiness.
"We're never going to know where our nation is going to need us to go. So, we have to train our youngest Soldiers and leaders to be agile, adaptive, flexible and able to react to any mission our nation calls us to do, anywhere in the world," Tuley said. "Soldiers coming together to conduct these high-risk operations in an area where they've never been before. That helps build confidence and competence in our young paratroopers. They'll go home after this exercise feeling better about themselves, their unit and what they can do."
Command Sgt. Maj. Beau Barnett, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, said that the Soldiers were motivated to be dropping onto an unfamiliar drop zone to take part in the training.
"We normally jump into Fort Bragg -- our Sicily drop zone -- so everyone gets used to the location. Coming here to Fort Hood is different," Barnett said. "It allows us to practice setting up our training objective."
Brig. Gen. Brian Winski, deputy commanding general for the 82nd Airborne Division, and one of the first boots to hit the ground from the morning's airborne operations, took the time to thank III Corps for their continued service overseas.
"It's great to train here. As we speak, III Corps is fighting with the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq," Winski said. "The 82nd is the land component command subordinate to the joint task force, which is III Corps; Lt. Gen. [Sean] MacFarland and his team. So we're fighting together in Iraq right now, and we're training hard right here at Fort Hood together."