More than 150 paratroopers from the UK and US parachuted together on to Salisbury plain as part of an annual exchange program called Exercise Airdrop Warrior.
Pudsey-based soldiers from the 4th Battalion the Parachute Regiment (4 PARA) joined forces with members of the US Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Airborne National Guard unit, based in Fort Bragg in North Carolina, jumped using each others’ equipment and Hercules C130 aircraft. The opportunity to parachute in another nation’s parachute equipment allows the soldier to wear that country’s coveted wings.
The US Paratroopers, flew into the UK only days before jumping with the Brits. They are in Europe not only to establish and continue working relations with the Paras, but to take part and parachute into Normandy. This will be the 68th anniversary of the D Day landings, and was where the partnership was first forged. The American reserve unit has been taking part in the re-enactment for the last 17 years.
Two US C130 aircraft were brought over for the occasion but the troopers got to jump out the British Hercules, and the first one to jump out was Brigadier General Al Stolte; “Over a number of years we have had a good relationship with the UK and other Para organisations and so it is a good chance for interoperability training.
"We like to have the British Forces over to America and we like to come over here and build up the camaraderie. We work a lot when we are deployed so this is really great stuff.”
4 Para, who are a reserve unit, regularly train and operate with their regular counterparts. The majority of the unit have served on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with the uncertainty of what tasks the British Army will conduct in the future, the Paras need to be trained for every eventuality.
The Training Major for 4 Para, Major Justin Tancrel ends; ”We deploy on operations with the US and exit their aircraft quite frequently so it is beneficial for us to learn their skills and drills and that is what we are practicing today.”