By Sgt. Susan Wilt, 2nd BCT, 82D ABN DIV PAOMarch 17, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C.- The 82nd Airborne Division has always prided itself on having the ability to be a quick reaction force. If the Paratroopers aren't deployed than they're training to deploy.
Since returning from Iraq last March, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Paratroopers have been training constantly to be the Division's "go to" unit for quick reaction missions.
For 2nd BCT's most recent training event, a Mission Readiness Exercise, the Paratroopers received a big hand from the Joint Multi-national Readiness Center.
Over 500 Soldiers and contractors, who either acted as an evaluator or a role-player, came all the way from Hohenfels, Germany to help the 2nd BCT "Falcons" validate their QRF capabilities.
The Paratroopers do these types of training missions over and over, but don't catch the minor mistakes said Rochester, N.Y., native Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Williams, an Observer Controller for the event.
"It's a lot of little things that they don't see, but now we're picking it up," he added.
JMRC is normally a Europe based program that helps Army units prepare for combat deployments. The 2nd BCT MRE was the first time that JMRC trained a unit in the states.
"It's a lot easier to deploy 500 Soldiers with a little bit of gear than it is to deploy an entire brigade with different weapons systems, it more cost effective for us to come here," said Montgomery, Ala. native, Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Golson, an OC from JMRC.
"It's a great asset to the force," added Fayetteville, N.C, native, Capt. Kevin Stein, the commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.
"It allows the commanders and first sergeants to step out of trainer mode, per say, and it allows us to also evaluate and observe, so we can make on the spot corrections and take part in the (after action reviews) without having to worry about the logistical aspects."
The Paratroopers didn't know what JMRC had waiting for them when the 10-day-long field problem kicked off on Mar. 4. Initially, the exercise opened up with a brigade-wide airborne assault into the country of Pacifica, a made-up country used for the training scenario.
"Each platoon conducted an attack on an unplanned enemy. It wasn't scripted or anything. The enemy was free to roam; they had their own task and purpose," said Stein.
The force-on-force action continued for five days after the initial jump. Then the exercise transitioned into Situational Training Exercises at the company and battalion levels.
"We try to make the training as realistic as possible, so that when they go over to Iraq or Afghanistan they know what to expect, they know how to react. They won't lose their composure," said Williams.
"We really make sure they get the best training possible," he added.
The falcons have certainly appreciated the efforts from JMRC.
"Overall the training has gone excellent," Stein explained. "It's been well resourced and professionally executed. Our JMRC counterparts have been extremely professional and every lane has been run smoothly. They train the tasks that we've asked them to."
Golson and Williams both mentioned that the unit was already proficient in their battle drills when they arrived and that the unit learned quickly.
Overall, the JMRC OC's were impressed with the Falcons and outcome of the exercise.
"If I had to go to combat with them, I'd roll with em'," said Williams of the Falcons.