EGELSEE, Germany -- Approximately 1000 paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, in cooperation with NATO Allies and partnered nations, blanketed the sky as they descended onto German soil. The massive personnel drop was a part of exercise Saber Junction 16 near the Hohenfels Training Area, April 12, 2016.
The international cohesion behind the airborne operation was as seamless as the landing. The British, Italian, and Polish also participated in the airborne operation. As soon as they landed, the paratroopers made their way toward the Short Takeoff Landing (STOL) strip with their brigade commander leading the charge.
"We do it with a combined force," said Col. Gregory Anderson, commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. "We have to bring all this combat power, all this capability to bear in time and space together."
The paratroopers fully displayed their speed of recognition, decision and assembly as they tactically advanced toward the STOL strip. The effective coordination behind the mission was transmitted solely through radio communications.
"I think the significance of analog products in an operation so complex like this is it forces people to truly know what the plan is and how it's synchronized," said Maj. Matthew LeClair, the executive officer for the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. "When it's analog, you can't copy and paste."
Sustaining energy was not an issue for the Paratroopers. In addition to personnel, C-130 and C-17 Globe master aircrafts distributed Container Delivery Systems (CDS) across the drop zone to aid them in accomplishing their mission.
"CDS bundles are very significant because they resupply the force," said 1st Lt. Robert Wright, the air operations officer in charge with the 1st Battalion 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. "On this particular operation, the CDS resupply consisted of ammunition, anti-tank capabilities, food and water to sustain the force."
The locals were very receptive to the display of a combined force. Large masses of spectators watched with excitement as the paratroopers landed and traveled right through the farmlands known as the MRA.
The Maneuver Rights Area (MRA) is land that the German Federal Ministry of Defense authorizes for NATO forces to occupy for training reasons. For the purpose of exercise Saber Junction 16, this area was used to simulate the type of environment the paratroopers could land in during a contingency operation.
The Paratroopers made their way through the urban terrain, ultimately reaching the Short Takeoff and Landing strip. With the STOL strip secured, aircraft carrying mission essential equipment and more Paratroopers are now clear to enter.
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 with 18 hours.