Soldiers make a jump at Malamute Drop Zone at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on Aug. 8, 2023.

Soldiers make a jump at Malamute Drop Zone at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on Aug. 8, 2023. (Avery Cunningham/U.S. Army)

Paratroopers with the Alaska-based 11th Airborne Division are slated to parachute into a training field Tuesday on Hawaii’s Big Island as part of the multistate Arctic Aloha exercise.

The mid-morning airborne assault by Task Force Spartan will drop several hundred paratroopers into the 132,000-acre Pohakuloa Training Area, the division said in a statement Monday.

The Halloween jump is part of an exercise intended to prepare the Arctic-based troops for “decisive action operations” in U.S. Army Pacific’s area of responsibility, the statement said.

Among those maneuvers will be establishing multiple staging bases, joint planning and joint forcible-entry operations in both the tropical and arctic settings found in the Indo-Pacific, the statement said.

During a forcible entry operation, joint forces seize and hold an area against armed opposition that then allows the continuous landing of troops and equipment, according to an Army training document published in June.

Such operations are “extremely complicated and inherently risky,” and paratroopers are specially equipped, manned and trained to parachute in for the job, the document states.

Examples of successful Army airborne assaults in support of joint forcible entry operations were Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983 and Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989, the document states.

Task Force Spartan consists of Alaska-based units from the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) headquarters; the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment; 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion; and the 725th Brigade Support Battalion, the statement said.

The paratroopers are now at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., from where they will fly in Air Force C-17s to Hawaii for Tuesday’s jump. They will rig for the forcible entry operation while en route, the statement said.

Following the jump into Pohakuloa Training Area, paratroopers will once again board C-17s for a flight to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, for a second joint forcible entry slated for Thursday.

A force-on-force exercise in that vicinity will continue through Sunday, the statement said.

The Arctic Aloha exercise is just one of several being hosted by the Pohakuloa Training Area this week.

On Sunday, the U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Squad, based at Fort Liberty, N.C., dropped soldiers into the training area using the high-altitude, low-opening mode of skydiving.

In this style, parachuters jump out of the plane typically at 30,000 to 40,000 feet, freefall to a much lower altitude and then deploy their chutes, in some cases less than 1,000 feet above the ground.

U.S. Army Pacific’s annual Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center rotation will also bring soldiers from the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division to Pohakuloa Training Area from Wednesday through Nov. 10.

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Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.

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