US Army, April 15, 2015 - FORT BRAGG, N.C. by Sgt Taryn Hagerman – Concealed in darkness, the American and British paratroopers of Task Force Falcon worked stealthily and feverishly to complete the joint forcible entry operation into Atropia.
After securing the area and only a few hours the jump, they moved to a nearby town to evacuate innocents trapped in the increasingly dangerous environment.
These operations are entirely fictitious scenarios of the 82nd Airborne Division-led Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01. With more than two years of planning, the exercise was carefully tailored to stress paratroopers’ skills and unit readiness, as well as solidify joint operational capabilities of the division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team and the British 16 Air Assault Brigade.
Training scenarios like noncombatant evacuation operations are crucial for the global response force as any erupting conflict is almost certain to threaten the safety of nearby innocents.
“We’re working to make everything safer,” 2nd Lt. Keslie Carrión, a platoon leader with the 16th Military Police Brigade, said in regard to the NEO scenario. “I know we have a lot of forces on the ground that are here combating the enemy threat.”
During the exercise, role players simulated nine American nationals and one British national who requested evacuation through the local embassy. Carrión said they were prepared to evacuate host nation civilians as well, had the need arose.
British paratroopers with 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, transported the 10 evacuees back to the secured area where American military police had already established an evacuation control center and were awaiting their arrival.
At the ECC, military police escorted the evacuees through multiple stations to process them prior to travel out of the country.
Soldiers searched the roleplayers, checked their bags, completed all necessary paperwork and conducted a brief medical exam to ensure that all displaced persons were healthy enough to fly and did not sustain any injuries during the evacuation.
CJOAX 15-01, including the NEO exercise, promotes the interoperability and cohesive readiness of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 16 Air Assault Brigade. It is also the largest bilateral training exercise held on Fort Bragg in nearly 20 years.
“We’re working together as an international, interoperable force,” said Capt. Maria Frishman, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 37th Engineer Battalion, 2nd BCT. “It’s been a great experience overall for everybody.”
The ECC played an integral role in safely evacuating 10 displaced persons and will maintain readiness for the duration of the exercise.
“We’re going to continue to have the evacuation control center open, and we’re prepared for any kind of follow-on missions that are assigned to us,” said Frishman, referring to the exercise scenario.