2nd phase of Swift Response lands in Hohenfels
By MICHAEL S. DARNELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 15, 2016
HOHENFELS, Germany — It takes about 40 seconds for the average paratrooper to reach the ground from 1,500 feet in the air, according to Sgt. 1st Class Richard Flanagan.
During that time, jumpers mentally run through a checklist. They have to be prepared to undo the ties and clasps that hold their gear close to their bodies. They have to scope out a clear landing path and after that, plan for a properly executed landing that, to the untrained eye, looks similar to a boxer collapsing after one too many blows to the head.
But one thought trumps all others, Flanagan said.
“I hope this thing opens,” he said, referring to the nylon parachute that has allowed him to make 47 successful landings.
Flanagan, a jumpmaster with the 82nd Airborne Division, didn’t get to join his fellow paratroopers in their most recent of jumps, Wednesday at the Hohenfels training area.
Instead, the seasoned vet was coordinating efforts at the landing zone, where more than 600 paratroopers from several nations landed.
The jump marked the beginning of the second phase of Swift Response 16, a multinational crisis-response training event. Earlier this month, the first phase of this U.S. Army Europe-led exercise began with a similar air assault near the Polish town of Chelmno.
On Wednesday, the Americans from the 82nd were joined by Polish soldiers and the Airborne Combined Expeditionary Force, made up of French and British commandos.
After flying in from Ramstein Air Base on American C-130s and French C-160s, the troops will now begin a weeklong field exercise that has been in the planning stages for quite some time.
“As far as the development of an exercise like this in multiple locations with multiple partners, it is very complex,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Loeben, U.S. European Command’s director of exercises and assessments. “It takes a 12- to 18-month training and planning cycle to really get an exercise like this to fruition.”
An 82nd Airborne Division soldier scurries off the drop zone to make room for other soldiers soon to be parachuting onto the Hohenfels training ground on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. The 82nd, along with soldiers from Poland, the United Kingdom and France were participating in the second phase of the multinational training exercise Swift Response 16 began.
MICHAEL S. DARNELL/STARS AND STRIPES