News: Spartan paratroopers and Arctic Wolves descend from the skies over JBER
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Epperson
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Members of the Spartan and Arctic Wolves brigades began a joint emergency deployment response training exercise Monday at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Spartan paratroopers with the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, and Arctic Wolves with 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, were alerted early Monday morning to begin the exercise.
Army Lt. Col. Tobin Magsig, commander of the 1-501st Infantry, explained how his battalion fit into the overall interoperability of the exercise.
"What we've really done is test the readiness of all of United States Army Alaska, beginning here, with testing elements of my battalion," Magsig said.
The battalion was alerted and conducted an 18-hour sequence that included an in-flight parachute rig and an airborne insertion into a combat scenario.
After his element took control of the situation in the training scenario, they were pinned down and needed heavy forces to be able to conduct a non-combative evacuation operation for identified personnel to be extracted.
The 1/25th SBCT answered the call.
"We brought in Strykers from the 1st Brigade, the Arctic Wolves, from up north and they flew into an aerial port of debarkation, drove off the aircraft and arrived [to complete the mission]," Magsig said.
The colonel said this was a significant opportunity to test the
interoperability between the two different forces.
"This was a great mental and physical test for the battalion," he said. "First of all, the guys, through the exercise, have gone 34 hours without sleep and without food. It involved physical and mental toughness in terms of moving nine or 10 miles, and then stepping right into a difficult and delicate scenario on little sleep. An element of physical and mental toughness is always important in these kinds of training exercises."
Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Raymond, a squad leader assigned to 3rd Platoon, Comanche Company, 1-501st Infantry, role-played as the community leader for the city where the scenario took place.
Raymond, a native of Amherst, N.H., said the training helps because it puts the unit in an unexpected scenario.
"There's no battle drill for this," Raymond said. "You don't really know what the right answer is, and you have to make a decision. You're just going with what you think is the right answer and rolling with it and just trying to calm down the situation. They did a really good job of that."
Raymond said it's not just a battle drill.
"You can't just go into a [field manual] and get all the answers," he said. "There are multiple variables here and you have to act accordingly, and I definitely think this is a big thing we should train on."
Army Staff Sgt. Kris Babbes, assigned to C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1/25th SBCT, said they were ready for the challenge.
"We definitely didn't expect the amount of contact, not from the intel that we were told," Babbes said. "We have to be fluid if we have to change mission. If it goes from peaceful to trigger pulling then so be it."
The rapid response exercise combined all elements that would go into a real-world forced-entry operation, including a robust mission command element and a multifaceted Air Force transportation mission.
Since returning from Afghanistan in late 2012, the brigade has focused on returning to its roots to provide a rapid response force capable of operating anywhere in the Pacific on short notice. On the heels of Talisman Saber 2013, this was one more demonstration of that capacity.