British paratroopers have jumped into Latvia alongside their opposite numbers from the US to show their ability to strike hard and fast in response to crises anywhere in the world.
The soldiers from C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (C Coy, 3 PARA), part of Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade, parachuted into the Adazi training area alongside American troops from 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division – known as “1 Fury”.
Once on the ground, the paratroopers converged on a number of pre-designated rally points before moving off to accomplish their allotted tactical missions, negotiating challenging terrain weighed down with heavy loads of weaponry and equipment, and in some cases fighting their way onto multiple follow-on objectives.
Speaking moments after landing, Colonel Andrew Jackson, Deputy Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, described the exercise as ‘a clear and unmistakable show of airborne strength on a global scale’.
He said: “There’s a reason why most of the world’s reference armies still maintain an airborne capability, because in strategic terms it’s not possible to get this many men and this much equipment anywhere on the globe so quickly by any other means. This is a very public statement that the 82nd Airborne Division GRF (Global Response Force), with 16 Brigade as part of it, is able to project significant force at short notice.”
Exercises like this are crucial in developing the skills and self-belief of young paratroopers at the start of their career. The troops have jumped four or five times in the last few weeks from different types of aircraft, with different rigs and different parachutes.