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Allied airborne operations set the stage for Swift Response 17-2 exercise

By Staff Sgt. Kathleen V. Polanco October 16, 2017

HOHENFELS, Germany -- Several local German civilians and media personnel gathered on a 800x800 meter field outside the Hohenfels Training Area, Oct. 9, 2017 as they patiently waited for paratroopers to safely land right before their eyes and cameras.

Approximately 120 British and 166 French paratroopers soared through the overcast sky from a C-130. The multinational force made up the Airborne Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (A-CJEF), one of the airborne brigades participating in Swift Response 17, Phase II.

"When they hit the ground in reality, they'll take the lessons they learned from this exercise onto the battlefield," said Capt. Christopher Wade, media operations officer with the 16th Air Assault Brigade, British Army.

Swift Response 17-2 is an annual, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise focused on allied airborne forces' ability to quickly and effectively respond to crisis situations as an interoperable multi-national team. The exercises takes place at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Oct. 2-20.

Swift Response 17-2 provided an opportunity for multinational forces to learn how to work together as one combined joint fighting force.

"Training is vital for anyone," said Lt. Col. Duncan Mann, the commander of the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment. "But training with multinational partners is more important than most because we all know how the Brits operate and the French know how the French operate. But actually working together, we have to work out both personality issues and language issues. Understanding our strengths and weaknesses is very important."

The first Joint Forcible Entry, the airborne operation with paratroopers entering their area of responsibility, wasn't the end of the day for the A-CJEF.

The multinational force had to march approximately five kilometers to reach their objective, the Short Take-Off Landing strip on Hohenfels Training Area.

On the way to the STOL strip, more of the German local populace watched the A-CJEF tactfully patrolled through a nearby town, Emhof, while paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade pulled security.

After passing through the Bavarian town and finally reaching the landing zone, the multinational force successfully accomplished their objective, securing the STOL strip. This mission was a crucial requisite in order for the next set of missions in Swift Response 17-2 to be conducted.

"We will deploy as coalitions, partnerships and allies," said Wade. "The better we understand how to work each other through exercises like this, the more effective and efficient we'll be on the battlefield when we deploy for real."

The airborne operation on Monday was the first of two Joint Forcible Entry (JFE) exercises in Swift Response 17-2.

The second JFE was organized to occur the next day on the Hohenberg drop zone in the Hohenfels Training Area, when American, Italian, Polish and paratroopers were scheduled to jump from a variety of airplanes. But the uncooperative weather didn't allow that to happen.

However, the rainy, windy weather wasn't enough to cancel the six heavy drops, equipment parachuting onto the drop zone, allowing military equipment and vehicles to safely land on the drop zone. The successful mission enabled the multinational force to move forward into the next Swift Response 17-2 phases.

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