Exercise Sky Soldier II. Paratroopers seize Hradcany airfield

Autor: Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek

At the coordination exercise, Sky Soldier II, held from 26th–30th September at Ralsko-Hradcany area, Czech and American airborne troops carried out several air drops and, conducting “close air support”, “took back” the airfield, facilities and the adjacent area occupied by the “enemy”.

Paratroopers of both the Czech 43rd Airborne Battalion, 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, based in Chrudim and the U.S. 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade (Sky Soldiers) based in Grafenwöhr, Germany were provided with a unique chance to train together in airborne operations.

Approximately 250 Czech and 150 American soldiers participated in the exercise. The integrated planning, joint air drops and ground operations contribute greatly to improving tactical airborne proficiency and unifying operating procedures. It also provides closer interaction between soldiers, which serves to reinforce their unity and support for each other, as well as increasing interoperability and strengthening partnerships between allied airborne forces.

The exercise began with the air drop of a reconnaissance group and snipers from an L-410, followed by four rounds of jumps from a CASA C-295M. For the last two air drops, both Czechs and Americans jumped from a C-17 Globemaster at 300 meters. The whole operation was supported by a Czech L-159 ALCA aircraft providing simulated bombing and live fire.

“This exercise is exceptional for three reasons. Firstly, the soldiers train over and on unknown territory, away from normal military training areas. Secondly, Czechs and Americans fulfil tasks jointly in one formation, and not individually and, finally, for the first time, Czechs paratroopers have been given an opportunity to operate new equipment using advanced technologies,” said General Josef Becvar, Chief of the General Staff, speaking to journalists who had been invited to the exercise.

This was not the first exercise of its kind carried out in the Czech Republic. The first Sky Soldier exercise, using the same units, was held at Bechyne in September last year.

By Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek

October 4, 2016