U.S. paratroopers practiced jumping into combat scenarios and conducted live-fire drills during the Eagle Sokol exercise in Slovenia this past week.
Approximately 500 soldiers with the 173rd Airborne Brigade joined with their Slovenian counterparts for the exercise, which concluded Wednesday.
The rapid deployment exercise tested the soldiers’ ability to assemble forces, get into a fight fast and maintain cohesive battlefield operations, officials said.
During the jump, sappers from the brigade’s engineer battalion and infantrymen parachuted into the mock battlefield to provide an opening for follow-on forces. The soldiers only found out they were going to jump into the action the night before the airborne assault, while they were still at their home base in Italy.
“What we did here was to demonstrate our capability to conduct joint forcible entry operations anywhere in the world with limited notice,” said Lt. Col. Robert Shaw, commander of 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.
The brigade is billed as the U.S. Army’s contingency response force in Europe, charged with quickly projecting forces throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East in an emergency.
During the training, the soldiers practiced small unit tactics, and conducted day and nighttime airborne assaults, including offensive and defensive maneuvers. Soldiers honed their accuracy on weapons such as the M240B machine gun, M224 60 mm mortars and their service rifles.
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