The Joint Forcible Entry exercise on Boboc Air Base was conducted as part of three near-simultaneous airborne operations being executed by multiple NATO allied nations, in support of Swift Response 21, one of the premier military crisis response training events for multinational airborne forces in the world. Swift Response is just one part of the large-scale, U.S. Army-led exercise DEFENDER-Europe 21.
Paratroopers participating in the Romanian jump were from 6 Polish Airborne Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, 11 Air Assault Brigade (DSK), and 495th Parachute Battalion (Romanian).
Brig. Gen. Grzegorz Grodzki, commander of the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade, speaking about the exercise, highlighted the importance of interoperability and working together when forces from different countries are involved. This multinational task force also included Dutch and German soldiers training with the Romanian, Polish, and American ones, and this capacity to work together “makes us ready for future challenges here in Europe. I think that day by day, our readiness, our posture is better. Our interoperability is going higher. It’s a great opportunity to be stronger.”
One of the goals of the American force was direct delivery from the United States of Joint forcible Entry Force; doing it in conjunction with the European allies was another one.
“And so that’s what we’ve been doing here in Romania. We’ve got our headquarters at MK Airbase, where we’ve got several nations represented within our combined headquarters. We’ve got Polish representation, Dutch representation, Italian representation. And all of those elements have been critical parts of this training exercise throughout,” said Col. Gil Ferguson, Deputy Commander-Operations, of the 82nd Airborne Division. “Having the different allies that we have in our headquarters that are all working together is a critical component of the operation. So we’re able to work together to ensure that we all have that mutual understanding of the goals of each operation, and we’re planning it together. We have to keep training; if we don’t train, we won’t be able to perform our mission.”
And even if the weather was pretty sketchy for a while, and the JFE was touch and go, the decision was made, based on the conditions, to go ahead and attempt to execute. It paid off, as they were able to pull off the Joint Forcible Entry on Friday night.
“And so I think everything you saw out here today on this drop zone is a great example and I think it makes it very clear to everyone why this is so important and what we can accomplish. When you look out and see aircraft flying from five different allied countries and all the different parachutes coming down from all the different allies that participated, it really, really drives it home, how important this is and how much we can do”, added Col. Gil Ferguson. He continued by expressing his “appreciation again to the government of Romania and the folks at MK Airbase. They’ve been tremendously gracious hosts and have really provided everything that we could have asked for to allow us to have a successful exercise. So I’m very thankful for that. And that U.S. Army Europe and Africa brought us into the exercise and gave us the opportunity. We are committed to ensuring that we accomplish our training objectives.”
If from command point of view the importance of the exercise is obvious, the training also gave to the soldiers from the countries involved a great opportunity to develop their carries and also they, as individuals, as Spc. Bernardo Figueroa, a soldier with the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, remarked. “For Swift Response 21, we conducted an airborne operation with some of our foreign allies, and as soon as we landed, we set up our ACP set of communications to be able to communicate with other armies out there. I mean, we got to jump with people from other armies. I thought that was cool. I’ve never been out of the country before. It’s a good experience for me and my professional career, gaining credibility from my soldiers saying ‘I’ve done this’.
It is a great experience getting to know our allies. I’ve been watching them work together. It’s super smooth, and there haven’t been any issues; communication is constant, and everyone’s friendly, and we work really well together.
Overall, I think it was an amazing experience. Being able to say that I jumped in a foreign country for the first time. Being able to be outside of the country for the first time was amazing for me. Getting to know people from different armies that are our allies was amazing as well. They were super friendly and I got to talk to them about their culture. I expressed to them my culture and it was just a blessing experience to be here and I couldn’t be happier.”