Dropping in Down Under

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 19:00
American, Australian forces train together in massive joint operation
Paratroopers in the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division simulate a jump from a C-17 on Thursday, July 18 on JBER.

For about 400 Spartans, Thursday, July 18 was one long day.

Paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division — nicknamed the “Spartans” — spent several hours simulating all aspects of a jump from a C-17 before loading onto aircraft and making the 20-hour nonstop flight to Australia.

“The next time we land is on our two feet,” said brigade commander Col. Matt McFarlane.

Spartan paratroopers traveled nearly 8,000 miles to take part in Exercise Tailsman Saber 13, a combined training effort between U.S. and Australian forces. Between the two countries, about 28,000 soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines are participating.

Before leaving Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, every paratrooper went through exercises to simulate parachuting into Australia. Such training is conducted within 24 hours of every jump, McFarlane said.

“Rehearsing is the key to success,” he said.

Spartans also conducted a series of practice jumps last month at JBER’s Malamute Drop Zone.

After landing in the Outback, the Spartans will spend 10 days training with Australian forces. Tailsman Saber gives the U.S. an opportunity to strengthen its relationship with Australia, McFarlane said.

“Australia’s been a great partner with us,” he said.

The biennial exercise is something Australia looks forward to, said Australian Army Warrant Officer Class 2 John Edwards. Due to Australia’s isolation, training with another country is a rare treat, he said.

“It’s always great to work with other countries,” Edwards said. “It’s good to share stories and ideas.”

Edwards was one of six Australians who participated in a partnership training jump on JBER with the 725th Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne) on July 11. A total of 530 paratroopers jumped from 1,500 feet out of an Alaska National Guard C-23 Sherpa.

Edwards said training with the Spartans in Alaska has been a great experience.

“We’ve had a good time here,” he said.

And he’s happy to return the favor.

“We’ve got a big country,” Edwards said. “Plenty of room to share.”


Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727.

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