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Exercise Forager 21 jumps into Airborne Operations

By Sgt. 1st Class Tony WhiteJuly 30, 2021

ANDERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Special Forces Group, and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducted an early morning airborne operation as part of Forager 21, the primary training exercise in support of Defender Pacific 21, here, July 30, 2021.

The airborne operation included more than 150 Soldiers dropping from the sky during the early-morning hours, as four flights delivered them for one of the joint exercise's key events as over 4,000 U.S service members continue to participate in the month-long Forager exercise,

Forager 21 tested the collective ability of the Theater Army and Corps to effectively deploy a land power force to execute the mission in the Indo-Pacific.

"I think (the bilateral exercise) contributes to our airborne operations capability and also our joint interoperability," said Lt. Col. Shingo Miyachi, from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

"We try to train with them [Japan Ground Self-Defense Force] as frequently as possible," said a U.S. Army Special Forces Officer. "I know our unit has trained a couple times this year so far… Being so close, right in Japan, we try to take every opportunity we can to go up or bring them down to train with us, anything we can do to build the trust and the relationship between the two of us."

"The one element Guam adds is that it showcases the ability to project bi-lateral force throughout the first, second island chain and the whole INDOPACOM [Indo-Pacific Command] region," he continued.

The JGSDF leader noted this joint opportunity along with the past training occasions, gave himself and his organization a unique perspective as an allied training partner.

We learned about where they are from, said Miyachi, describing what he has learned as a commander. And how special operations performs and their professionalism within the organization stand out as well.

The U.S. Army Special Forces Officer complemented the Japanese Soldiers, noting "it was a really great opportunity to see how professional the JGSDF are, both in their planning, preparation, and their execution, and how efficient they were in exiting the aircraft, onto the airfield."

Prior to the bi-lateral jump Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division flew more than 8,000 miles from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, complete with a mid-air refueling and in-flight rigging to participate in Defender Pacific after for a direct delivery airborne assault.

"At about 20 minutes out, we started our airborne operations - standup, hook-up, shuffle to the door," said Maj. Joe Fritze, the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment commander. "This demonstrates to our junior paratroopers and junior leaders that the 82nd Airborne Division is America's emergency response force, getting out of North Carolina to anywhere in the world in 18-hours for a direct delivery is something we need to stay proficient on and prove to them, as well as senior leaders, that this is a mission we can and should execute on a drop of a hat.

"Dropping into an unknown drop zone kind of reboots and sharpen our skills… This is an 80-man operation right now, moving on to a relatively small objective, and the complexity that goes into it involves the company to battalion to brigade and even the division reps we have here – an understanding of the importance of a mission like this. INDO-PACOM has their eyes on us right now. It's important to demonstrate our capabilities. I am glad to be in Guam and ready to get going," said Maj. Joe Fritze.

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