By Staff Sgt. Grady Jones
3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Snowfall and below zero wind chill temperatures couldn’t stop Fort Carson Soldiers and Fort Bragg, N.C., paratroopers from completing combat and rapid deployment readiness training Feb. 4-7.
Cold weather and snow moved into the Fort Carson area Feb. 4-7 and brought with it more than 160 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division based out of Fort Bragg.
Soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, along with Soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., conducted the deployment readiness exercise at Fort Carson’s Camp Red Devil training area in support of the XVIII Airborne Corps global response force mission.
The exercise encompassed planning and coordination efforts between the Army and Air Force, two division commands, four brigades, nine battalions, and seven civilian support agencies, allowing for training on sustainment, transportation, individual Soldier readiness and medical and air movement operations.
“The bottom line is that 82nd Abn. is the rapid reaction force for the country,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David Glenn, senior enlisted adviser, 1st Bn., 68th Armor Reg. “That’s where we come in with heavy armor and additional infantry and capabilities that 82nd Abn. Div. does not have.”
The purpose of the GRF is to have units who are able to quickly deploy and execute decisive-action operations in support of combat operations and in some cases, provide humanitarian assistance, much like 82nd Abn. Div. did during recovery efforts in Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
“We always have to be ready to go,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Kuchan, commander, 1st Bn. 505th Parachute Inf. Reg. “You have to maintain proficiency from the lowest level all the way up to company and battalion collective training. So that’s a huge challenge.”
The training was unique in that it called for both light airborne Soldiers and a heavy mechanized unit for total mission accomplishment.
“This training means that the Army is able to synchronize all of its assets; light airborne infantry, mechanized infantry and armor into one unified fight,” said 2nd Lt. James Greene, platoon leader, Company A, 1st Bn., 68th Armor Reg.
“This helps instill faith in Army leadership and the combined arms approach.”
The airborne operation, commonly referred to as a “jump,” into Camp Red Devil, was cancelled due to inclement weather.
Infantry fire team leader, Sgt. Nicholas Sandefur, Company C, 1st Bn., 505th Parachute Inf. Reg., said he has never had to wear cold weather gear before.
“It’s definitely a great experience to wear cold weather gear because back at Fort Bragg it’s warm weather all of the time,” Sandefur said.
Learning how to be a Soldier in cold conditions is priceless training, said Glenn.
Soldiers from 1st. Bn., 68th Armor Reg., gained insight as to what it means to be a light airborne trooper through the training exercise.
“The Soldiers from1st Bn., 505th Parachute Inf. Reg., are extremely professional,” said Greene. “We learned a lot from them so far, but they are learning from us, too. There is definitely lots of shared understanding going on.”
The leadership from both units also took the opportunity to learn of the capabilities of each other, through heavy and light unit integration, said Kuchan.
Although the cold weather may have caused changes to the training, both units used the opportunity to learn more about each other, helping enforce the teamwork mentality.
“The training has been awesome,” said Kuchan. “We have learned tons. We learned how a heavy (unit) and mechanized company team thinks differently and look at the enemy and terrain differently.”