The engines roared as about 60 paratroopers anxiously awaited the commands to stand up and hook up to the steel cables running down the length of the aircraft that secure their parachutes’ static lines. They searched around for familiarity in an unfamiliar high performance aircraft. The jumpmasters stood up and gave their commands, commands that paratroopers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division normally don’t hear during an airborne operation. Their commands were in German.
The 2BCT “Falcon” trains continuously to be prepared to answer our nation’s call and be ready for deployment, on short notice, anywhere in the world. During the week of May 7-11, Falcon paratroopers teamed up with their German counterparts to enhance their training and build cohesion between the paratroopers of both nations. It was the week of Operation Federal Eagle.
This training operation is a combined effort with German and American paratroopers to become more proficient at the skills necessary to perform airborne operations. The 82nd Airborne Division conducts this event annually with Germany. It also helps establish a good working relationship between the two nations because of their continual joint efforts around the world.
“This is a great chance for German troops to work with American Forces,” said Lt. Col. Chris Boecher, German liaison for the XVIII Airborne Corps. “It is a great experience for our paratroopers, and many volunteer, but only a few are able to get the opportunity.”
Boecher spoke of how the operation affords the opportunity for the forces to work together in aspects other than just airborne operations. He hopes to see German forces being able to train more with Fort Bragg paratroopers in events such as joint operational access exercises and marksmanship training on the ranges.
The Falcon Brigade has worked with various nations from around the world. They have deployed to combat to partner with the Afghan Nation Army and Iraqi Army, deployed to Haiti to help the victims of the earthquake destroyed country. The Falcons are known around the world for the diversity in partnership building with other counties. Operation Federal Eagle is another way the 2BCT is always prepared for any mission.
The 2BCT paratroopers met before the sun came up at Green Ramp on Pope Air Force Base, just like any other airborne operation. They all gathered in the holding area, waiting to conduct sustained airborne training.
The paratroopers lined up and received their instructions from the German jumpmasters. Sustained airborne training was very similar to the American Army standard; it is all spoken in German.
After the training was completed, the paratroopers helped each other don their parachutes and marched out to the aircraft, a C-160 Transall. It is very similar to the C-130s that American paratroopers are accustomed to jumping out of. The C-160 takes three days to arrive at Fort Bragg from Germany, said Bocher. The aircraft stops in Ireland, then Canada and finally arrives here for the one-to-two week training event.
With few clouds in the sky and a slight breeze, the paratroopers exited the aircraft under ideal conditions. Once they had all landed on Sicily Drop Zone, each jumper was accounted for, their parachutes recovered, and the paratroopers marched to the ceremony site as family and friends watched from the bleachers.
The German jumpmaster who conducted the ceremony said he was very honored to work with the American paratroopers. He expressed his gratitude for being a part of this operation, because American paratroopers had saved the lives of his comrades during a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Falcon paratroopers who took part in the operation also took something away from the event; and chance to meet and work with foreign Soldiers doing what they do best, and a new insignia to wear on their uniforms.
“This is the first foreign badge that I have earned,” said Sgt. Christopher Leseney, a squad leader with A Company, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2/82, from Lansing, Mich. “It was a great experience working with the Germans and seeing what kind of aircraft they use for airborne operations.” Leseney said he received great training and experiences during the operation and hopes to work with other coalition forces in the future.