TRZEBIEN, Poland - Upon landing at the drop zone in Poland, Sep. 12, "Destined Company" Company D, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, wasted no time establishing a strong footing on ground and immediately began preparations for their follow-on mission.
Paratroopers with D Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt., joined forces with the Polish 18th Airborne Battalion, 6th Airborne Brigade, to conduct combined training exercise Pantera, Sep. 17-22, 2016 in Trzebien, Poland.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct a full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours. The "Sky Soldiers" of D Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. will remain in Poland over the next five months in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. led effort in Eastern Europe that demonstrates U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region.
"The whole point of Pantera for us is conducting a combined airborne operation between the Polish and ourselves," said 1st Sgt. Anthony Dimico, senior enlisted advisor with D Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt.
Through this combined exercise, allied forces demonstrated deterrence capabilities with airborne assault, combined defensive operations, and a live-fire density.
"I think the biggest thing we learned was that by being an anti-tank company and mostly a heavy weapons company, we don't practice as much dismount operations as we would like to do," said Dimico. "Today was a definite win for us to get out here and practice more dismount operations and hone those types of skills that become a little dull."
To prepare for the airborne assault portion of the exercise, paratroopers conducted rehearsals on clearing the airfield, squad reaction to contact, platoon reaction to contact, and setting up a deliberate raid, in addition to land navigation and crossing linear danger areas, explained Dimico.
The exercise was highlighted by a final defensive mission during which the paratroopers established a blocking position and engaged targets with humvee mounted, Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) missiles and .50-caliber machine guns.
"We used the night sights with the TOW, which you don't get to use all that much unless it is at night," said Spc. Bradley Porter, TOW gunner with D Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. "Being able to use the night sights and using the tracking gauge to shoot a smaller target is more challenging for the TOW gunners. It helped me learn how to use more of the system."
Throughout the exercise, paratroopers of Destined Company shared their tactics with Polish allies establishing a foundation on which they will continue to build on in the coming months.
"They gained an understanding of how we train and how we fight by watching us from both sides of the fight, both with us during the operation and against us while playing OPFOR," Dimico said.
U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.