U.S., Canadian forces participate in airborne exercise

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AFNS) — U.S. and Cana­di­an ser­vice mem­bers con­duct­ed Joint Oper­a­tions Access Exer­cise 12–01 here Feb. 10–13.
Air­men with the 93rd Air Ground Oper­a­tions Wing joined forces with air­borne units from the Army’s 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion and Canada’s Com­pa­ny M, 3rd Bat­tal­ion, 3rd Roy­al Cana­di­an Reg­i­ment for the exer­cise.

Sol­diers with the Head­quar­ters and Head­quar­ters Com­pa­ny, 3rd Brigade Spe­cial Troops Bat­tal­ion, 3rd Brigade Com­bat Team, 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion, and Air­men from the 824th Base Defense Group work togeth­er in col­lect­ing and set­ting up a detainee con­trol point dur­ing Joint Oper­a­tions Access Exer­cise 12–01 in Fort Bragg, N.C., Feb. 12, 2012. Dur­ing the exer­cise, Army and Air Force mem­bers jumped togeth­er and pro­vid­ed secu­ri­ty along with help­ing to evac­u­ate Amer­i­can cit­i­zens out of a hos­tile envi­ron­ment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Man­cha)

The Joint Oper­a­tions Access Exer­cise gave the air­borne forces the oppor­tu­ni­ty to test their Glob­al Response Force readi­ness and abil­i­ty to con­duct oper­a­tions with coali­tion part­ners.

“The objec­tive of JOAX is to ensure air­borne units are cur­rent and able to per­form a full spec­trum of oper­a­tion skills dur­ing a para­chute assault,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Edwards, an 820th Com­bat Oper­a­tions Squadron squad leader. “Each group has their own objec­tive they are assigned to, and ours was to jump in with our coali­tion part­ners and pro­vide secu­ri­ty along with help­ing with the evac­u­a­tion of civil­ian non­com­bat­ants out of the hos­tile envi­ron­ment.”

The exer­cise con­sist­ed of mul­ti­ple night­time com­bat equip­ment jumps; assault­ing and clean­ing a flight land­ing strip; an air assault; a ground assault con­voy; and evac­u­a­tion of civil­ian non­com­bat­ants.

Para­troop­ers have strate­gic capa­bil­i­ties such as estab­lish­ing an air­head for land­ing oth­er units or the abil­i­ty to enter the bat­tle from dif­fer­ent loca­tions, which allows para­troop­ers to evade for­ti­fi­ca­tions that are in place to pre­vent attack from a spe­cif­ic direc­tion. These are just some of the capa­bil­i­ties that have ensured air­borne forces are still a part of the mil­i­tary with­in units like the 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion.

With­in the first 20 min­utes of the exer­cise, approx­i­mate­ly 500 air­borne mem­bers land­ed on the ground and gath­ered at their ral­ly points to begin their respec­tive mis­sions, includ­ing seiz­ing the land­ing strip, pro­vid­ing perime­ter secu­ri­ty and per­form­ing fol­low-on objec­tives.

By the end of the exer­cise, approx­i­mate­ly 1,000 air­borne forces had jumped onto the bat­tle­field and had secured key posi­tions like the land­ing strip.

“We had a total of 19 air­borne mem­bers from the 820th Base Defense Group who jumped dur­ing the exer­cise, and each one played a key role in per­form­ing the mis­sion we were tasked with,” Edwards said. “Our group was made up of more than just secu­ri­ty forces mem­bers. We had an intel­li­gence ana­lyst, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist, a close pre­ci­sion-engage­ment team and a physi­cian assis­tance who jumped in with us, and all of them can per­form the duty of a fire team mem­ber as well.”

The 93rd AGOW is a mul­ti­fac­eted group made up of 12 dif­fer­ent career fields that can pro­vide sup­port depend­ing on the mis­sion at hand.

“When we are sup­port­ing a joint role like the one dur­ing the JOAX, we add anoth­er ele­ment to what can be pro­vid­ed,” said Air Force Maj. James Meier, the 824th Base Defense Squadron com­man­der. “We may have a guy with us who can help pull intel­li­gence, or anoth­er who can pro­vide med­ical sup­port to the injured as well as pro­vide secu­ri­ty if need­ed. That’s just how we are built.”

The group also had 40 addi­tion­al air­borne mem­bers who were tax­ied onto the land­ing strip by a C-17 Globe­mas­ter III in order to pro­vide fur­ther sup­port to the mis­sion fol­low­ing the ini­tial wave of troops.

“Hav­ing their sup­port pro­vides a dif­fer­ent capa­bil­i­ty than what our units usu­al­ly have,” said Army Capt. Robert Gre­go­ry, of the Head­quar­ters and Head­quar­ters Com­pa­ny, 3rd Brigade Spe­cial Troops Bat­tal­ion, 3rd Brigade Com­bat Team, 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion. “It was great hav­ing the 93rd AGOW fight­ing right beside us.”

Cana­di­an mil­i­tary mem­bers said the exer­cise also pro­vid­ed valu­able train­ing to the Cana­di­an para­troop­ers, who are nor­mal­ly not able to con­duct bat­tal­ion- or brigade-sized train­ing events.

“This will be the sec­ond year that we have sent our guys here to par­tic­i­pate in the JOAX,” said Roy­al Cana­di­an Reg­i­ment Sgt. Jared Bail­lie, a 3rd RCR para­troop­er, “We have about 150 mem­bers par­tic­i­pat­ing in the exer­cise this year, which will real­ly help with any future joint oper­a­tions.”

The joint exer­cise is sched­uled to be held three times a year to ensure each rota­tion of per­son­nel are pro­fi­cient and trained in the event a sit­u­a­tion like this occurs and an assault like this is need­ed.

U.S. Air Force

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