AUSTIN, Texas – Each year, Aug. 16 marks National Airborne Day, an occasion that acknowledges the contributions and achievements of our nation’s Airborne forces.
Proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2002 and designated by Congress in 2009, National Airborne Day occurs on the same day of the first official Army parachute jump, which took place on Aug. 16, 1940.
With that jump and countless jumps thereafter, the Army opened up new possibilities for inserting ground troops into difficult-to-reach areas, allowing them to navigate covertly into position from the sky.
Today, Airborne Soldiers continue to fill a vital role in combat operations and are lending their expertise to Army efforts to ensure war-winning future readiness.
Members of the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, have participated in five Soldier touchpoints and one operational demonstration on the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) in recent years, providing more than 10,000 hours of feedback on the headborne, heads-up display goggle.
82nd Airborne Division Soldiers have similarly supported evaluation of the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW), participating in multiple touchpoints and technical sub-tests designed to refine development and fielding of the modern rifle and automatic rifle system, and have used One World Terrain, a 3D global terrain mapping system, for mission planning activities.
The Division has also participated in Project Convergence experiments, which bring together thousands of Joint and Multinational participants and hundreds of new technologies.
A to-be-named brigade within the 82nd will additionally become the first unit equipped with the M10 Booker Combat Vehicle – a new armored vehicle that will bring mobile, protected, long-range precision firepower to the light infantry – in fiscal year 2025.
“The 82nd’s participation has enhanced the development of all our programs, particularly the Integrated Visual Augmentation System,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Q. Burris, director of the Army Futures Command Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team, which coordinates IVAS and NGSW engagements with the 82nd Airborne Division.
“Their thorough, relevant and candid feedback helped us redirect when we needed to refine technologies and focus on that which was most critical and desirable to the Soldier,” Burris said.
Both the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, have provided feedback on Future Long Range Assault Aircraft prototypes and contributed extensively to Army network transformation, assessing new capabilities to help guide development of technologies, doctrine and policy.
This past spring, members of the 101st completed an Integrated Tactical Network validation exercise stateside and assessed additional network capabilities while deployed to Romania.
The Division has also supported the Army’s piloting of data and cloud capabilities, offering feedback that will inform cloud-native command post options for Army 2030 network designs.
“Working with the 101st is our first opportunity to identify how we can move the complexity up to Division to meet Army 2030 imperatives,” said Matt Maier, project manager for Interoperability, Integration and Services with the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical.
“Lessons learned and iterative improvements are the only way we get good at this, which is why we talk to units and pull them into the conversation early and often,” Maier said.