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US Army Alaska soldiers parachute into Fort Greely during simulated airfield attack

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 4:14 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - With winds blowing around 10 knots (11.5 mph) and A-10 Warthogs circling over head, the airfield at Fort Greely was “invaded.”

From a distance, C-130 and C-17 cargo aircraft with nearly 500 soldiers approached.

The soldiers were from the 4-25 Airborne Brigade stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and their goal was to take over the airfield.

The attack was a simulated training, part of the Northern Edge Training Exercise being conducted in Alaska. The soldiers from the Anchorage base flew to Fort Greely outside of Delta to conduct the mission.

“Our job is just to pull security out here, that’s like my job, but just like a small part of a bigger puzzle,” said Airborne Infantry SPC Tony Ooten.

Jumping from the airplanes are everyone from combat engineers to radio operators. Their goal is simulate an air assault and each person has a role in the mission.

However, wind speed complicated the operation. According to SFC Jonathan Huff, the drop zone safety officer said wind speed above 13 knots (15 mph) is unsafe to jump in. With winds blowing right below the cut off, soldiers who jumped had a higher chance of injury.

“It’s kind of windy, the ground’s a little bit rough, but it was a good jump,” said PFC Glenn Luther.

Some soldiers like SSG Neil Brown where dragged by the wind until they could disconnect their chutes. “I would say it hurt, that’s about it... I hit and then I drug.”

During the jump, some soldiers were injured and needed to be seen by medics who were on standby.

After most of the soldiers had jumped, wind speeds picked up and Huff called off the jumps until the wind died down.

After soldiers landed on the ground, they packed up their gear and assembled with the rest of their team to begin taking the airfield. Groups of soldiers secured the perimeter, checked for explosives and set up radios.

Jerry Breeden is a combat engineer and said that this prepares them for the real world. “We get the repetitions in for when we have to actually clear an FLS like this... make it safe for planes to land on so we can get more planes in so we can take control of the airfield.”

The exercise continued for the rest of the day as soldiers simulated taking control of the airfield.

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