By Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Alfano, 82nd Airborne Division Public AffairsFebruary 22, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - From the time of notification to the time the first Paratrooper's boots hit the ground, no division in the United States Army has the ability to get there quicker than the 82nd Airborne Division. The method of delivery - parachute drop. Jumping from an air plane to charge the enemy battlefield has been the 82nd's bread and butter since WWII. This is what they are training for in the Joint Operational Access Exercise.
The JOAX is an opportunity for the division and its units to get back to the basics of the parachute assault that might have lost some focus after almost ten years of deployments.
"This exercise provides the division with excellent training opportunities. By performing these exercises we can build muscle memory", said Maj. Christopher Hossfeld, the 82nd Airborne Division chief of operations. "Even if the focus is on one Brigade Combat Team, the whole division has an opportunity to learn, from the individual paratrooper all the way up the chain of command."
A lot of planning and coordination goes into synchronizing the many moving pieces such as the division headquarters, four Brigade Combat Teams, a Combat Aviation Brigade, a Fires Brigade, support transportation units, and countless Air Force aircraft. Other nations have also been involved, such as paratroopers from the 3rd Royal Canadian Regiment.
"Planning for this JOAX has been going on since September," Hossfeld said. "The Air Force has been critical to our success. Their planners have been amazing."
The exercise has given everyone involved a chance to train in a number of areas from the airborne infantry jumping from a C-17 Globemaster to the Hi Mobility Artillery Rocket System firing steel on target.
Logistics has also had a chance to practice putting their pieces of the puzzle in place. The Intermediate Staging Base located at Camp Mackall has been a very important part of the success of this exercise. Multiple units make up the effort supporting the 82nd at the ISB. The 11th Transportation Battalion from Fort Story, Va., the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element from Fort Eustis, Va., and the 615th Contingency Response Wing from Travis Air Force Base in California, are all among the unsung heroes that supported the division during this JOAX. Their jobs have been logistics, tracking vehicles and equipment, receiving, staging, and then out loading as needed according to the needs of the division.
"Without us, the war-fighter wouldn't have what they need to fight," said Maj. Ryan King, the detachment commander for the 689th RPOE. "One of our biggest roles is to maintain visibility on the equipment."
Aside from assisting the troops on the ground, King also spoke about the benefits of working with different branches of the military.
"Its great for all of us to get to know the other services and support. If something does happen, we are on twelve hour notice, so getting to know each other in this training really helps," King said.
Over the past several days the training and support from outside elements, has enabled the 82nd Airborne Division to get back to the basics, so the "All-Americans" can further honor the legacy that has made the 82nd what it is today.