Filling skies over Central Texas
Paratroopers from 1st BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., drop from an aircraft to begin a two-day training exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 10. The brigade is part of the Global Response Force mission, which requires them to be able to deploy around the world on... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas -- For the second time in two years, paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division dropped in on this sprawling Central Texas installation for a training mission, Feb. 10.

Nearly 800 members of the division's 1st Brigade Combat Team parachuted onto Antelope Drop Zone to begin a two-day training in support of the Global Response Force.

"Fort Hood's unrestricted maneuver training area, low surrounding population density, robust support facilities, underground training facility, and the joint-use airfield are perfect to train these types of complex missions," said Keith Gogas, who heads up the Fort Hood Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. "I don't know of any other installation that has the enablers to support airborne operations, heavy mounted maneuver, armored vehicle gunnery and underground operations simultaneously. We are very fortunate to have all of these capabilities conveniently located on post."

While the installation often hosts small unit airborne training, a parachute drop of this magnitude is a rare sight in Central Texas.

"We have seen airborne operations of this scale only once before in the 11 years I have been here as the installation range officer," Eric Harmon said, "and that, too, was the 82nd Abn., last year."

Harmon said the total plan from concept to execution for this operation took three to four months for his staff, noting that an airborne operation does not affect other ranges any more than normal aerial gunnery or combined arms training conducted routinely on the installation.

"The use of air and ground assets are routinely used jointly and conflicts (are) identified for resolution on a daily basis to support live fire training," Harmon said. "We just don't see many paratroopers on a heavy armor installation. That causes a lot of interest."

The GRF is a joint services task force mission that provides combatant commanders with options to respond to national and international crisis. The U.S. Army maintains units with varying capabilities in an on-call status to meet the nation's needs. Gogas said supporting that mission and the airborne operation is just another example why Fort Hood is called the Great Place.

"It is always an honor and privilege to be able to showcase the installation's training support capabilities," the DPTMS director said, "that are truly unparalleled within the Army."

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