NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — One by one, Airmen assigned to the 820th RED HORSE Airborne Flight lined up to board a C-130 Hercules on the flightline here May 31.
For the past week their sole focus had been preparing for this moment. Their countless hours training and preparing the cargo pallets with Soldiers, assigned to the 647th Quartermaster Company at Fort Bragg, N.C., would now be put to use.
Each Airman and Soldier’s participation would be vital for the success of the upcoming U.S. Air Force Weapons School bi-annual Joint Forcible Entry exercise.
“We’re in a difficult time, and during difficult times, we have to come together to take full advantage of the available learning capabilities.” said Maj. Luis Gonzalez, 82nd Airborne Division operations officer.
For the Airmen and Soldiers, who will be parachuting out of cargo planes to a specified area on the Nevada Test and Training Range, the time spent preparing is of utmost importance to the accomplishment of the exercise objectives.
“In today’s joint environment, it’s extremely important for Airmen and Soldiers to be able to work side by side without sacrificing a skill set. Meshing together and learning from each other’s varying experience levels will only enhance one’s ability to be prepared to accomplish the mission at a moment’s notice,” said Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Burroughs, 820th RED HORSE Airborne Flight superintendent.
According to an Air Force fact sheet, the Joint Forcible Entry exercise demonstrates the Air Force’s ability to tactically deliver and recover combat forces via air drops and combat landings in a contested environment.
During the exercise, RED HORSE was responsible for rapidly assessing and repairing the runways. The only thing that separates the airborne flight from the rest of RED HORSE is they parachute onto the airfield below along with the cargo needed to make the repairs.
Conducting a mission with such importance is not something that can be done in a few hours. There are prior coordination efforts that take place to ensure the Airmen participating can execute their mission effortlessly and without any problems.
“Rigging the cargo and getting it onto an aircraft can take up to a week. The exercise itself can take up to six months due to preparation and coordination that has to take place.” said Tech Sgt. Phillip McAlpin, 820th RED HORSE Airborne Flight pavements and equipment operator.
Although it may take some time to prepare for such an exercise, Airmen are still ready to go on a moment’s notice. Once up in the air, the realization of jumping out of a C-130 comes into focus.
“You’re so focused on the mission and exiting the aircraft properly; once you get on the ground, you get to work.” McAlpin said. “The mission on the ground is to get the airfield repaired as safely and quickly as possible.”
The 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Bridgade Combat Team tested the capabilities of the Joint Fixed Installation Satellite Antenna to provide real-time communications, information exchange and battle space situation awareness back to Fort Bragg, N.C.
It’s not every day Airmen and Soldier’s have the opportunity to parachute out of a C-130 Hercules, but for the 820th RED HORSE Airborne Flight and 3rd Brigade Combat Team that opportunity becomes a reality quite often. These Airmen and Soldiers go into work knowing what they have to do to accomplish the mission.