Archive for the ‘paratroopers’ Category

Source: CentCom.

This one is dedicated to The Paratrooper of Love, so it may ease the wounds of the arse-kickin’ he suffered yesterday at the Army/Navy game. 😉

14 November 2007
BY Third Army Public Affairs

CAIRO, Egypt — U.S. and coalition forces conducted a “Friendship Jump” at Koum Asheem drop zone in Cairo Sunday as part of Exercise ‘Bright Star’.

The joint-combined exercise continues through Nov. 19. It includes a computer-aided command post exercise, airborne operations, naval operations, and special forces training exercises conducted by the components of U.S. Central Command. This year’s exercise demonstrates the shift in modern warfare by focusing on technology as a battlefield enabler, USCENTCOM officials said.

The airborne operation began at 6:30 a.m. Sunday with about 200 paratroopers participating from the United States, Egypt, Kuwait, Germany, and Yemen. There was an airborne wing exchange at the conclusion of the jump. Nearly 7,100 Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors from Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Yemen are participating in this year’s Bright Star exercise.

About 200 members of the New York Army National Guard’s 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division headquarters are part of this week’s command post exercise in Egypt. The division, with supporting elements from New Hampshire, New Jersey and Minnesota, will team with members of the Egyptian Army’s 9th Armor Division command and staff to replicate a multinational senior headquarters during the battle simulation.

Bright Star is designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships for U.S. and coalition forces while increasing awareness and appreciation of each participant’s culture, customs and professional military skills, according to the U.S Central Command.

Bright Star is the oldest and largest exercise in the USCENTCOM area of operations. It is a biennial joint/coalition exercise designed to increase regional involvement in pursuit of improved security and defense capabilities.

Photo – Paratroopers from five nations descend onto Koum Asheem drop zone in Egypt as part of Exercise Bright Star. Photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Buckley.

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Source: US CentCom.

31 October 2007
By Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Caldwell
173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Under the cover of darkness, soldiers from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne), air-assaulted about three miles south of their forward operating bases in the Pech River Valley earlier this month as part of Operation Rock Avalanche.

Operation Rock Avalanche was a multiple-company mission that ran Oct. 19-25 in the Chapa Dara, Korengal, Shuryak and Pech river valleys. Participating were “Able,” “Battle” and “Chosen” companies from 2nd Battalion; Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry (Airborne); and multiple companies from the Afghan National Army’s 201st Corps. The companies were positioned into different areas of Kunar province at different times, hoping to flush insurgents out of one area into another, where U.S. and Afghan forces would be waiting for them.

Working from a vantage point 7,500 feet up, overlooking the Shuryak and Pech valleys, Able Company’s four-day mission was to locate and destroy insurgent command-and-control and logistical elements operating in that area, Army Capt. Louis Frketic, the company’s commander, said.

After setting up a perimeter and establishing a command post on the top of Phase Line Ridgeway, 2nd Platoon was dispatched to the nearby village of Aybot. Previous intelligence had suggested that Taliban leaders might be holed up in that area. “We were looking for two named (high-value targets). One of them is the commander of the entire Shuryak forces, and the other guy is an IED specialist,” Frketic said. “We searched their compounds, and they were not in there or in the area.”

Frketic and his paratroopers were not dissuaded. A low-level voice-intercept team from Company B, 173rd Special Troops Battalion (Airborne), was tasked to Able Company for the mission. The team had begun listening to Taliban radio traffic as soon as they hit the ground and already were getting “a bead” on insurgents operating in the surrounding valleys. The team was an invaluable asset, one that Frketic said he uses every chance he gets to collect intelligence on the enemy. “A lot of times we will start getting locations, and then we will pick up names,” he said. “It is usually specific to that cell what kind of things they are talking about. Sometimes they will start talking about people, fighters, locations, ammo, or weapons systems that they have.”

Even the smallest details, including specific words used, can yield valuable information, Frketic said. “A couple days ago, right before the mission started, we heard a cell talking about their fighters and their leaders in the terms of soldiers and officers. Other times, we’ll hear them talk about fighters and commanders. The one talking about officers and soldiers, that is a professional organization. Little details like that are very critical in my mind,” he explained.

With so much Afghan National Army and U.S. military activity on the surrounding mountains and in the surrounding valleys, the Taliban were never sure of Able Company’s position and never mounted an attack on the company. The voice intercept team used the time to continue to collect intelligence on enemy in the area. The formerly suspected enemy locations were now known.

Around noon Oct. 24, Frketic put that information to use and launched soldiers from 1st Platoon, Company D, into action. The platoon is a heavy-weapons platoon attached to Able Company for the deployment and commonly referred to as the Dragon Platoon. They had air-assaulted onto the ridgeline with their MK19 grenade launchers and M2 machine guns. A mortar team with an 81 mm tube from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-503rd, also was put into action.

Their fire destroyed one command-and-control node operating in the Shuryak Valley. But destroying the enemy position was probably the easiest part of the mission for the MK19 gun team, said Spc. David Hooker, from Palestine, Ark., and a Dragon Platoon member. “I’ve never air-assaulted in with a MK19 before,” Hooker said. “But since we just set in and manned a blocking position, it was OK.”

“The weight is the biggest challenge, getting it in and out,” he said. An MK19 without a tripod weighs 75 pounds, and ammo cans weigh between 40 and 60 pounds each, depending on the number of rounds in them. Many cans were brought for this mission.

The mortar team, one of the busiest in the battalion, also spent most of the day putting rounds on target. The team averages firing more than 1,000 rounds per month. “As far as firing goes, this is hands-down the most intense deployment that I have been on,” said Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Thomas, of Nashville, Tenn.

While Howitzers are available for fire missions throughout Kunar province, the mortar teams are able to react the quickest when indirect fire is needed, Thomas said. “We have eyes on a lot of the targets, and our response is a little bit quicker,” he said. “The channels to clear the 155 go all the way through battalion and then back through their fires. Ours are cleared right here. If we are in direct contact, I can engage freely.” [It’s about damn time!]

The number of rounds fired combined with the danger of their job has earned the team the respect of Thomas and the unit’s leadership. “These guys are awesome,” he said. “Everybody has been put in for valor awards.”

The mortar team and the pit in which they work are favorite targets of the Taliban, making it a dangerous job. “There is no overhead cover, and they stand out there and fire throughout the entire engagement and also in support after,” Thomas said. “It’s pretty remarkable what they do.”

Early on the morning of Oct. 25, members of Able Company began what would end up as a 10-hour trek down treacherous, slippery and steep terrain back to their base — no small feat for even the most fit paratrooper, yet a regular occurrence for soldiers in Kunar province.

“We go on ruck marches into the mountains every other day or every third day,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Mading, from Bonita Springs, Fla., and a member of Headquarters Platoon. “The first couple are tough. Then, of course, the more you are doing it, the more you get built up.” “The guys that come here right out of basic or other units usually get broke down pretty quick or get into it pretty quick depending on what their physical fitness level was before,” he said.

All of the gear these paratroopers carry is heavy: helmet, protective vests, rucksacks, weapons, ammunition, and water. It makes packing before the mission extremely important, leaving little room for extra cold-weather gear or even extra food. During the trip down the mountain, the Able Company soldiers had hoped to “drop in” on some insurgents the low-level voice intercept team had confirmed were hiding out in villages in that area. But none were spotted, and no contact was made.

Frketic stressed that wasn’t a problem. “Those villages are only a three- to four-hour walk from our base,” he said. “They’ll be getting visits from us again soon.”

Wow. Our guys are fantastic! I wonder if the people of those villages truly approve of the Taliban or if they are afraid of them? Keep up the great work guys. You have much support back home. Thank you for your service, and come home victorious and soon.

Photo – Army Sgt. Chad Mohr (left) watches rounds land on target as Army Spc. David Hooker fires the MK19 machine gun at a known insurgent position Oct. 24, 2007, during Operation Rock Avalanche. The “Dragon Platoon” soldiers of Destined Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne), were occupying a ridgeline between the Pech and Shuryak river valleys in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. U.S. Army photo.

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This is a must read. It is an amazing article of our men and the Iraqi men working side-by-side so the Iraqis can achieve the knowledge to run their own country and our men can come home. This is also an open trackback weekend. I’m not expecting too many, because I haven’t received too many except from some loyal friends. I do, however, would appreciate it if you would at least read it. For them.

Posts I have trackbacked to: The Florida Masochist and The Florida Masochist, Church and State, Right Truth,123beta, Big Dog’s Blog, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, The World According to Carl, Blue Star Chronicles, Leaning Straight Up, The Amboy Times, A Blog For All, Stageleft, Shadowscope, The Yankee Sailor, Nuke’s, and CommonSenseAmerica, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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Deployed soldiers participate in mass re-enlistment ceremony.

18 October 2007
By Sgt. Marcus Butler
4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne)
25th Infantry Division

BAGHDAD, Oct. 18, 2007 — One hundred forty-one paratroopers decided to stay Army in a mass re-enlistment ceremony held on Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, Oct. 14. The paratroopers from 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, made the decision to continue their service in the Army after being deployed for over a year.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of Multi-National Division–Center, made a special trip to FOB Kalsu to lead the oath of enlistment for these paratroopers.

“To re-enlist this many paratroopers after being deployed for a year is truly amazing,” said Master Sgt. Douglas Goodwin, senior career counselor for the 4th BCT (Abn.), 25th Inf. Div. “It says a lot about the leadership and the patriotism of these paratroopers.”

After the ceremony, Lynch thanked each paratrooper and posed for pictures. To this date, the Spartan Brigade has re-enlisted nearly 1,300 soldiers; approximately 70 percent of them have decided to stay with the brigade for another tour.

“Soldiers are special people and to see these paratroopers making a commitment to continue serving their country when the operational tempo is so high proves they trust in their leadership,” Goodwin said. “It also shows how much they believe in what they are doing and stand proud as United States paratroopers ready to defend our country against the ever-growing threat of terrorism.”

Photo – One hundred forty-one paratroopers from 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, re-enlisted Oct. 14 on Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, in a ceremony conducted by Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of Multi-National Division–Center. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Marcus Butler.

Source: US CentCom.

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This operation was successful in that the head of the Security Division went along with them, he spoke to the people to calm their fears, he told them he was there to get rid of the Taliban and to provide security, and he also wanted them to know they should build their own city government from which they should have one representative to speak to him so that he could help them with their needs. Wow. I’d say that’s a big first step, eh?

Source: CentCom and reposted @ DoD Daily News-2.

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