US and Canadian paratroopers conducted a combined parachute operation onto Bledowska Drop Zone on May 5 to begin combined airborne infantry training with their Polish allies.
The exercise brought together paratroopers from the 1st Squadron, 91st Calvary Regiment, with the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne); Canadian paratroopers from 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry; as well as Polish paratroopers from the 6th Airborne Brigade, for five days of allied training, including airborne operations, patrolling tactics and techniques, night movement capabilities, live-fire weapon ranges and land navigation.
“Today, these forces continue the training relationship that was forged started many years ago”, said Polish Army Brig. Gen. Adam Joks, commander of the 6th Airborne. He explained that this training is the next step in increasing the multinational interoperability that the allied forces have been working on strengthening for many years.
The five-day training began, when approximately 100 Americans and Canadians donned parachutes and boarded aircraft at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The two forces intermixed on each other’s aircraft, an American C-17 Globemaster III and a Canadian C-130 Hercules, to meet with Polish forces on the ground in the Bledow Desert training area.
“It’s a beautiful day for jumping and practicing parachute insertions,” said Canadian Army Maj. James Thaner, commander, Company B, 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. “We’ve got some good training organized here with the Polish airborne and Americans from the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, and our soldiers are looking forward to some good training together.”
The jump began with a heavy-equipment drop of a wheeled vehicle and equipment packages, followed by the combined paratroopers.
“There is a lot that we can learn from our Polish and Canadian partners. I’m pretty excited and it will be a lot of fun,” said 1st Lt. Luke McCabe, a platoon leader with Troop C, 1st Sqdrn, 91st Cav. Regt.
After the jump, Canadian and American paratroopers exchanged parachute badges at an informal ceremony on the Drop Zone, signifying that they may be qualified to wear each other’s wings on their uniforms.
“An old paratrooper once told me, ‘when evil strives to counter good, and firepower is greater than spoken word — death rides a winged horse — airborne!’” exclaimed Thaner to the assembled group, referring to the World War II maroon and blue Pegasus symbol of British Airborne Forces, from which the tradition of the maroon beret paratroopers wear stems.
Williams commented to the combined force that strong teams are forged by trust and shared experiences.
“Conducting an operation together like this is what really makes effective teams,” said Williams. “That is really what we’ve done here together today and what we will continue to do so over the next few days of training.”
The last time the three countries worked together in Poland was during NATO Exercise Steadfast Jazz in November, in Drawsko Pomorskie, where 150 paratroopers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), are currently conducting separate exercises with other members of the 6th Airborne.
Approximately 600 paratroopers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), are in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, as part of an unscheduled land-forces exercise to demonstrate commitment to NATO obligations and sustain interoperability with allied forces.
The 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), based in Vicenza, Italy, is the US Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct the full of range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Commands areas of responsibility.
Source / Copyright: US Army, www.army.mil
Text and photos by: Sgt. A.M. LaVey, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne)