By Maj. Richard Foote (1st BCT, 82nd Airborne Division)May 3, 2019
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- The 1st Brigade Combat Team "Devils" of the 82nd Airborne Division just completed their 10-day Mission Readiness Exercise. The exercise, Devil Storm, took place on Holland Drop Zone and across the entire training area at Fort Bragg, N.C. Devil Storm lasted from April 23 to May 3, 2019.
"Over the last six months, we've gone through an echeloned approach to training," said Col. Andrew Saslav, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team. "We've trained our squads and our platoons, about a month and a half ago we knocked out company live fires and now it's time to bring all those capabilities from across the seven battalions into synchronization."
Devil Storm began April 23, when the brigade received their mission from the 82nd Airborne Operations Center. This order initiated the 96-hour sequence, a regimented system of preparation that allowed the brigade to coordinate and ready their personnel and equipment for a combat airborne operation.
The 4-day prep included brigade and battalion staffs conducting the Military Decision Making Process to determine the best courses of action for the mission, sustainment nodes inspecting and preparing vehicles and equipment for transport and administrative offices updating records and preparing manifests for airborne and ground movements.
"The Outload went extremely well," said Saslav. "The Black Devils of the 307th Brigade Support Battalion and elements from across the Brigade came together and did an outstanding job getting our Paratroopers out the door."
On the night of April 27, more than 1,500 paratroopers donned chutes and equipment, and conducted a mass-tactical static-line airborne operation onto Holland Drop Zone, officially beginning the operation.
Over the next five days, the Devil Brigade coordinated with a wide variety of enabler units and conducted offensive combat operations across the training areas of Fort Bragg, where each battalion was tested by extremely professional Opposition Forces (OPFOR) from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Major events included air-land equipment delivery from Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft, continuous aviation support from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, a wet gap crossing with bridging assets from the 299th Multi-Role Bridge Company and operations to clear enemy forces from multiple urban objectives performed by the 1BCT Parachute Infantry battalions.
"A Brigade Combat Team like the Devil Brigade is an incredibly capable organization, but we can't do it alone," stated Saslav, "so we bring in our Multifunction Aviation Task Force, Engineer assets, Chemical capabilities and Military Police assisting us all across the battlefield. I'm extremely pleased with the way the brigade staff has handed them out and the battalions have utilized them to their full potential."
These operations couldn't be executed without proper planning, and the brigade and battalion staffs were constantly busy in some portion of the Military Decision Making Process, analyzing information and issuing orders to subordinate units with plans to engage with and destroy the enemy.
Once plans were finalized and operations were underway, the Current Operations teams conducted battle-tracking to maintain accountability of personnel and equipment and to ensure real-time situational updates to battalion and brigade leadership.
"The Operations staff got consistently better at battle tracking, understanding and developing situations and coordinating war-fighting functions," said Capt. Steven Pashko, the Chief of Operations for the 1st Brigade Combat Team. "The constant improvement shows that we are ready for whatever mission comes next."
By the time the Devil Brigade received their Change of Mission order on May 2, they had successfully maneuvered across their area of operations and defeated a tough near-peer enemy opposition force. Their ability to coordinate maneuver, artillery, aviation and engineer assets across time and space, with the support of skilled sustainment, lead to victory in a fast-paced exercise.
Saslav is proud of the performance and progress of the Devil Brigade as they move forward into further training, prior to assuming the responsibility of the Global Response Force late this summer.
"Overall our Paratroopers have performed amazingly and I'm extremely proud. They have proven that they are lethal, they are disciplined, and most importantly that they are a learning organization."