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Ready, Agile and Lethal in Urban Terrain; Paratroopers Train for Combat In Megacities and Subterranean Environments

Paratroopers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division spent most of March training to fight and win in megacity and subterranean environments.

The paratroopers, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, trained at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, to learn concepts of megacity and subterranean warfare that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley is confident will be applied in the near future.

A Paratrooper assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment clears a subway train at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., March 21, 2018. The platoons operating in dense urban terrain learned many lessons with respect to operating in megacity environments. U.S. Army photo by Spc. John Lytle, 3rd BCT Public Affairs

“We wanted to expose our paratroopers to the realities of fighting in megacities and subterranean environments while dealing with chemical threats,” said Lt. Col. Robert McChrystal, the 1-508th PIR’s battalion commander. “Our goal was to build confidence in their equipment and themselves while teaching them the basics of how to operate in environments we don’t often get to train in.”

Training for combat in chemically-contaminated urban environments presented paratroopers with significant challenges. Often, those challenges required them to alter standing operating procedures and equipment postures to continue their mission.

“Paratroopers trained to don their chemical protective mask at the first sign of a chemical attack or when conducting missions specifically targeting chemical munition facilities,” said Maj. Adam Scher, the Battalion executive officer. “They quickly discovered the sight picture through night vision is altered when wearing the masks. Paratroopers adapted to this challenge by adjusting their helmet mounts to operate effectively in limited-light CBRNE environments.”

A Paratrooper assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment breaches a door during a nighttime air assault of a notional enemy compound at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., March 16, 2018. The platoons operating in dense urban terrain learned many lessons with respect to operating in megacity environments.

Another challenge presented to the 1-508th paratroopers was combat in underground facilities and tunnels. The challenge is twofold in subterranean environments; both light and space are often in short supply. McChrystal stated that platoons operating in dense urban terrain learned many lessons with respect to operating in megacity environments.

“On-the-ground leaders learned the best practice of mounting night vision goggles even during daytime operations,” said McChrystal. “This prepared them for a rapid or unexpected transition to conduct operations in underground facilities like subway systems or tunnels with limited lighting.’

‘Paratroopers also identified the need to reconfigure the wear of some combat equipment to better navigate confined spaces like those found in underground facilities and utility tunnels,” continued McChrystal.

The megacity and subterranean environments challenged paratroopers to adapt and apply ingenuity to accomplish their mission. Often, on-the-ground leaders generated the solutions and spread them as best practices to other elements within the battalion.

Through the training, Scher said a culture of winning and adaptability formed and it helped convince their team they are agile, ready and lethal in urban terrain.

“We now have a group of junior leaders exposed to cutting-edge training, new tactics and procedures,” said Scher. “They came away with newfound confidence in their ability to design their own training plans to ensure the 1-508th will always be ready to jump, fight and win tonight.”

Support Paratroopers Compete in Best Squad Competition

Paratroopers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division compete in the brigade’s April Best Squad Competition.

A paratrooper assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment changes a tire as part of the brigade’s April Best Squad Competition.

The event pitted squad-sized teams of soldiers from the brigade’s Forward Support Companies against each other in friendly competition to determine the month’s top squad.

The competition included five stations testing the paratroopers’ knowledge in communication, airborne proficiency, weapons assembly and maintenance spread over a seven-mile ruckmarch route, half of which the soldiers had to wear their M50 Protective Masks.

Paratroopers Train to Jump Stinger Missiles, Defend Against Air Threats on Future Drop Zones

82nd Airborne Paratroopers are Training to Conduct Static-Line Airborne Operations with the Air-Defense Missile

Conducting static-line airborne operations with non-typical weapons systems requires specialized training and equipment due to their large size. Paratroopers accustomed to the size and weight of a weapons case carrying an M4 or M249 must learn how to pack, move with and exit an aircraft with the bulkier equipment.

Paratroopers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division have been training to perform airborne insertions with the Stinger Missile Jump Pack, a Man-Portable Air-Defense System capable of defending drop zones from hostile unmanned aerial vehicles and rotary wing aircraft.

“Operational environments the Army has operated in were mainly focused on countering insurgencies and Air Defense’s focus centered around protection from Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles,” said Capt. Herman Wu, the 3rd BCT Air Defense Officer. “It wasn’t until near-peer threats to paratroopers became apparent that the Army recognized a capability gap exists in Short Range Air Defense on the drop zone.”

The weapon’s capability to defend against air threats on the drop zone makes it an essential component in future airborne operations.

“As an airborne unit, the Stinger Missile Jump Pack greatly increases our ability to defend against enemy UAS and rotary wing threats,” said Wu. “It is likely our next drop zone will be beyond the range of any friendly Air Defense assets and air superiority does not guarantee safety from enemy air threats.

“It could likely be our only defense against air threats in the initial stages of an airborne operation as the enemy tries to take advantage of our re-organization,” he added.

Training to jump with the Stinger Missile Jump Pack on Fort Bragg consisted of several events intended to familiarize the 3rd BCT paratroopers with the bulkiness of the equipment when exiting an aircraft. It also helped increase their knowledge about the system’s employment.

Paratroopers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division and soldiers assigned to the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade conduct classroom training on conducting static-line airborne operations with the Stinger Missile Jump Pack Thursday, March 15.

Classroom instruction, practical exercise at the United States Army Advanced Airborne School’s 34-foot tower and virtual-reality training at the Fort Bragg Virtual Stinger Missile Dome conducted throughout March with the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade developed the paratroopers’ knowledge about jumping with the system and employing it on the ground.

“Through this training, paratroopers are gaining confidence in their ability to successfully conduct a static-line airborne operation with the Stinger Missile Jump pack,” said Wu. “Their presence on the drop zone provides an extremely effective countermeasure to enemy air threats.”