Paratroopers Jump for Swift Response 18
US and British Army Paratroopers Participate in Baltic Region NATO Exercise
US Army paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division deployed near Rukla in Lithuanua to take part in an interoperability/readiness exercise with NATO allies and other US partners.
Elements of the 82nd division flew non-stop aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from their home at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Lithuania and Latvia, where they parachuted into their respective drop zones during the early morning hours, June 9.
“We flew over 7,000 kilometers from our location in North Carolina, performed one aerial refuel and then dropped in here [Lithuania] with enough combat power and communications to reach back to our home station and partner nations,” said Army Lt. Col. Scott Pence, the commander of the jump near Rukla, Lithuania.
9 Nations in Swift Response 18
Pence and other members of the division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team jumped as part of the annual Swift Response training exercise.
Swift Response 18 featured airborne forces from nine nations, including Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. British Army paratroopers from the C Company, 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) are also taking part in Swift Response 18. The exercise is scheduled to run June 7-15.
“By working with our NATO allies and partner nations, we are able to maintain and strengthen our interoperability,” Pence said. “Every time we do an exercise like this and work with the Lithuanians, the Polish or Latvians, we are able to test our communication systems, our signals and also our battle tactics, techniques and procedures.”
After jumping in, the soldiers quickly regrouped and began securing the airfield. As part of the exercise, Lithuanian soldiers played the role of opposition forces, creating a more-realistic training scenario and further validating the division’s capabilities as a global response force.
“This is a readiness exercise,” said Army 1st Lt. Nathaniel Volk, with the 307th Engineer Battalion.
The 82nd Airborne Division is a rapid-deployment force, which means that with 18 hours’ notice, they will strategically plan, deploy and secure main objectives. Swift Response 18 allowed the participating units to train according to their mission focus.
Demonstrating NATO Readiness
This exercise demonstrates the division’s ability to respond rapidly, and its resolve to assist its NATO allies and partners, Volk said.
“I am very motivated,” said Army Pvt. Daniel Guevara, with the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment. “This is the whole purpose of our training: to show our allies our readiness and show our command we are ready to go anytime, anywhere.”
According to a U.S. Army Europe statement, Swift Response 18 promotes readiness of participating units, while strengthening U.S. ally and partner capabilities and fostering trust. The combined training opportunities that it provides greatly improves interoperability among participating NATO allies and key regional partners.
Image: Members of the Italian Army 186th Airborne Regiment Forlgore Brigade execute a high-altitude low opening jump with Portuguese Army Rapid Reaction Pathfinders as part of annual exercise Swift Response 18 on June 6, 2018, over Latvia. Swift Response 18 includes approximately 2,300 participants from seven allied and partner nations, which entails multinational forces, airborne exercises, joint forcible entry personnel and equipment drops, air assault operations and more. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)