Over the span of nine days, beginning Feb. 5, nearly 11,000 troops assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division executed Operation Falcon Storm, a Deployment Readiness and Field Training Exercise.
The DRE is an extensive training scenario designed to test the overall effectiveness of the division in its ability to perform an airborne insertion of approximately 800 paratroopers within 18-hours anywhere in the world.
The rest of the brigade, about 3,700 troops, train to be in a location within a time frame of 96-hours as part of the Global Readiness Force.
U.S. Army Col. Pat Work, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div. explained the importance of the DRE
“With a Deployment Readiness Exercise, we are exercising all of the systems it takes to deploy the combat potential of the United States of America on short notice,” said Work.
The GRF is a rotational role that is maintained within the three division brigade combat teams. These teams make up the main force of the 82nd.
During the 18-hour sequence, the primary focus is to consolidate a single battalion and prepare them with the appropriate personal equipment, vehicles and medical readiness required for their specific mission insertion location. By the 18th hour, the battalion is prepared, on the flight line at the Pope Army Airfield and ready to deploy.
The DRE is a Joint Service Operation, incorporating the assistance of the U.S. Air Force and civilian forces.
“The 82nd is the only Division Headquarters who have deployed as a Joint Task Force both historically and for future operations,” stated U.S. Army Capt. Michael Johnson, deputy G3 Air, general staff of operations, 82nd Abn. Div. “Maintaining that capability for the Army is a strategic asset, and it’s one of the reasons why the 82nd is so sought after for deployments and other missions.”
The 82nd relied heavily on the Combat Aviation Brigade, among others, for support in air assault missions and critical attacking points. They played a significant role in the preparation and deployment of 2nd BCT.
After the 18-hour sequence is completed, all attention moves to finalizing the departure of the remaining 3,700 troops within 96 hours to reinforce their fellow paratroopers on their assigned mission.
“A lot of our training operations end up in utilizing the same equipment because it's easy to use, easy grab and easy to drop,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Allais, aerial delivery office non-commissioned officer, 151st Quarter Masters, 82nd Sustainment Brigade, 82nd Abn. Div., “Whereas during a DRE, the equipment we rig is specific to what they need on the drop zone, and so changing that, throws a curveball at everyone, forcing them to react positively."
“When you serve in the 82nd Abn. Div., when you’re not in the fight, you prepare to fight,” stated Work. “And one of the most valuable qualities of the paratroopers is our flexibility, our ability to go where the Nation needs us, when the Nation needs us."
Once the DRE was completed, the entire brigade moved to execute their FTX, which simulated the mission they prepared for during the DRE.
During the five-day training paratroopers immersed themselves in multiple scenarios they might expect to encounter in a hostile environment.
Examples of their training included, but were not limited to, long-distance movements, mass casualty exercises,and reactions to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.