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Yokota AB Participates in Multilateral New Year’s Jump Exercise

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) —  

A multilateral collaboration of U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, British army, Australian army, and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members conducted an annual New Year’s Jump exercise at Camp Narashino, Jan. 8.

Roughly 400 paratroopers participated in the event jumping from three U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, one C-130H Hercules and one C-2 Greyhound assigned to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

“The New Year’s Jump is the first big event of the year hosted by JGSDF,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Kevin Mendez, 36th Airlift Squadron pilot. “Doing this event has been a longstanding tradition with our allied partners to welcome the new year in the spirit of continued safe operations.”

This event marks a return to a diverse representation of forces participating since the COVID-19 pandemic began, allowing a renewal in partnerships while celebrating the first jump of the year with allies.

“This New Year’s jump event was an opportunity to learn from each other and improve together with our partner nations,” said U.S. Army Col. Christopher Ward, 11th Airborne Division chief of staff. “The true value of what we did here today in not only conducting a multilateral jump to celebrate the New Year, but to also increase our ability to conduct better airborne operations in a joint environment forward in the Pacific theater. Events like this and others builds readiness.”

Teamwork is a military strength at all levels, from small teams to large scale joint force operations, and the annual NYJ exercise is a commitment to maintaining flexible allied interoperability. This display of strength and capability acts as a deterrent to peer adversaries, and as a promise to the lasting friendship of partner forces.

“Our goal is to fortify our interoperability with our international allies through these jumps,” Mendez said. “Integration events like this help enhance interoperability between the U.S. and Japan Self-Defense Forces in the event of a real-world contingency.”

The New Year’s Jump kicks off a series of bilateral training exercises for Yokota AB, which have long since aimed to increase the combat readiness and friendships between the U.S. and its international partners.

Story by Senior Airman Hannah Bean, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Photos by Staff Sergeant Braden Anderson and Airman 1st Class Brooklyn Golightly

Accomplished EOD Soldier Now Serves as Army Golden Knight

Friday, December 23rd, 2022

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal Soldier made a grand entrance into the Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Dec. 10.

Staff Sgt. Devin T. Diaz jumped into the stadium during the pre-game activities as a member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team.

A native of Sunnyvale, California, Diaz previously served in the 47th Ordnance Company (EOD) on Fort Hood, Texas, and the 759th Ordnance Company (EOD) on Fort Irwin, California.

Both EOD companies are part of the 71st EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards formation. From 19 bases on 16 states, Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from 20th CBRNE Command take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.

Diaz later served in the U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group on Fort Meade, Maryland, as an EOD advisor. He was the first staff sergeant to make it through the Operational Advisor Training Course in the history of the group.

Diaz decided to become an EOD technician while serving with the military police in Afghanistan on a Counter Improvised Explosive Device team. He was selected for the EOD program in 2011.

He has deployed to Afghanistan three times, including two deployments with Military Police and one as an EOD team leader. He also deployed with the 759th EOD Company to Syria.

From range clearance operations at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, California, to defeating improvised explosive devices in a combat zone, Diaz has honed his lifesaving and mission-enabling skills. In one of many unique missions in Afghanistan, as an EOD team leader with the 47th EOD Company, Diaz conducted post-blast analysis on 15 trucks that had been destroyed by insurgents with improvised explosive devices.

While serving in the 759th EOD Company, Diaz was also a member of the winning Bomb Squad team in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-hosted competition called Urban Shield that brought together California SWAT teams, Fire and Rescue Teams, Emergency Medical Services and Bomb Techs.

He said it takes perseverance to succeed as an Army EOD technician.

“The more resilient that you can be, the better an EOD tech you can be,” said Diaz.

Earlier this year, Diaz demonstrated this kind of resilience when he tore his patellar tendon. After having surgery in February, Diaz was told it would take six to eight months before he could run or jump again.

He started running again four months later and participated in a half marathon six months later. On Oct. 9, he jumped into the Army Ten Miler in Washington, D.C., and then ran the race. He said he intends to participate in the Miami Marathon and he is preparing for an ultramarathon in the future.

Diaz was picked for the Golden Knights during the 2020 assessment and selection. Any American Soldier can apply to serve in the Golden Knights if they have completed 75 free fall jumps, either in the military or as a civilian.

Since the team’s inception, the Golden Knights have participated in 16,000 events in 50 states and 48 countries. With 50 jumpers and 50 support personnel, the teams travel roughly 240 days out of every year. They are one of three U.S. Department of Defense-sanctioned aerial demonstration teams, together with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

As a Golden Knight, Diaz has landed at sports venues and community events around the nation.

From landing on the aircraft carrier USS Midway Museum in San Diego to jumping into Yankees Stadium in New York City, Diaz has participated in 40 different events during his two years as a member of the Golden Knights’ Gold Team.

The highlight of his jumps so far has been landing on the field before the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers game, Nov. 13.

“I got to jump into my hometown stadium,” said Diaz, who has served in the U.S. Army for almost 17 years. “Not only did I get to do that, but my wife and my father were on the field when I landed.”

Command Sgt. Maj. David J. Silva, the senior enlisted leader from the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), said Diaz personifies the high caliber of Soldiers serving in the Army EOD community.

“He is a consummate professional who never stops seeking and conquering the next challenge. Whether its disarming IEDs in Syria, improving the Army’s ability to counter asymmetric threats or now supporting recruiting as a member of the elite Golden Knights, he’s an example of what you can achieve if you refuse to get comfortable,” said Silva, a master EOD technician from Long Beach, California, who is the senior enlisted leader for the EOD group that commands all U.S. Army EOD Soldiers stationed west of the Mississippi River.

“He proves EOD isn’t just a military occupational specialty. It’s a profession that gives you the skills to succeed in any venture. We have bomb techs who are working with industry partners and civilian agencies, flying planes and helicopters, ship captains in the Army’s sea fleet and working in Congressional fellowships. We offer complex training under high pressure situations with caring leaders to ensure mission success. That success doesn’t stop in the Army, it carries over to life,” said Silva. “It’s not just a job, it’s a calling that doesn’t stop at the bomb.”

By Walter Ham

Tier One Special Operators-Turned-Entrepreneurs to Launch Daring Skydiving Mission – 7 Continents / 7 Skydives in 7 Days for Charity

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

Record-breaking expedition to fund 1400 scholarships for

Folds of Honor Foundation

Legacy Expeditions launches the Triple 7 Expedition in early January (2023), but these Tier One special operators are training now like high-performance athletes to go after a world skydiving record – 7 Continents // 7 Skydives // 7 Days to fund educational scholarships for Gold Star children.

If you are looking for a great Giving Tuesday story of perseverance, renewal, and honor – look no further. Talking with any of these guests will leave your audience inspired.

Mission Matters – these entrepreneurs have built their businesses and lives on that very premise. Long retired from active duty, their work has changed, but not the mission to remember the legacy of the fallen by taking care of the children left behind.

Production Model Infantry Squad Vehicles Airdrop Tested for Long-term Ruggedization

Friday, August 26th, 2022

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina — Airborne equipment testers here are working with aerospace engineers on modifying airdrop rigging techniques because of structural and mechanical changes made by the manufacture of the Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV).

“Testing centered around determining if production representative mode (PRM) ISVs could tolerate the forces experienced during low velocity airdrop operations (LVAD),” said Lt. Col. Derek Johnson, Chief of Test Division at the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD).

The ISV is a new concept to allow Army Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers to cover large areas of challenging terrain more quickly and less fatigued by reducing the area usually covered on foot.

Infantrymen would also be able to carry enough personal and squad provisions to self-sustain for several days, and the ISV is also transported easily by air assets during air assault and airborne assault missions.

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center in Natick, Massachusetts assisted ABNSOTD in modifying the ISV rigging procedures and paperboard honeycomb kit to accommodate changes to the production representative model of the ISV by General Motors Defense.

“This capability is required across the range of military operations facing Infantry Brigade Combat Teams conducting crisis response, initial entry, and selected decisive action missions,” said James Cochran (JC), a seasoned Military Test Plans Analyst within ABNSOTD.

Johnson said the changes were deemed necessary after a previous version of the ISV encountered material problems during developmental testing when it was discovered some vehicle components were insufficiently ruggedized for long term vehicle service.

Testing started with a rigging exercise of two PRM ISVs on one standard Type V low velocity airdrop operations (LVAD) platform and one Dual Row Airdrop System platform.

Once rigging solutions and paperboard honeycomb modifications were incorporated into the rigging procedures, both vehicles underwent Simulated Airdrop Impact Testing (SAIT).

The two PRM ISVs rigged on airdrop platforms were raised by crane and free dropped to simulate the impact velocity experienced during LVAD operations.

“During the execution of the SAITs, high-speed video, photography, and instrumentation (accelerometers and impact data recorders) were employed to assess the PRM ISV’s reaction to the forces experienced during LVAD operations,” said Michael Estremera, Electronics Engineer at ABNSOTD.

After SAIT, both vehicles were thoroughly inspected by ABNSOTD, General Motors Defense, and the ISV Program Office to see if either ISV had any damage from forces experienced during the simulated drop.

The testing culminated with a 50-kilometer road test, with ABNSOTD personnel operating the PRM ISVs on improved, semi-improved, and un-improved roads as well as off-road routes at various speeds.

Following road testing, ABNSOTD, General Motors Defense and ISV Program Office personnel thoroughly inspected both vehicles to assess any damage the vehicles may have sustained.

This follow-on testing generated data on the ability of a PRM ISV to withstand the forces experienced during LVAD operations and remain fully mission capable.

“Operating the ISV is a great experience from the driver’s point of view,” said Staff Sergeant Clinton Martinez, an ABNSOTD Parachute Rigger. “It rides smoothly over all types of terrain and visibility is outstanding.”

“The speed and maneuverability of the ISV, along with its capability to easily negotiate all types of terrain should impart confidence in the Infantrymen that will be utilizing this vehicle in real world and training operations,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Love, an Infantryman assigned to ABNSOTD.”

The ISV is deployable worldwide by sea, air, and land to support strategic deployment and operational maneuver in accordance with Army and Joint doctrine.

Story by Mr. Blake Bagby, Military Test Plans Analyst, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

Photos by Mr. Michael Zigmond, Photographer, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate

It’s National Airborne Day

Tuesday, August 16th, 2022

US Paratroopers Kick-Off Exercise Super Garuda Shield with Trilateral Airborne Operations

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

BATURAJA, Indonesia — Paratroopers from 11th Infantry Division (Airborne), Tentara Nasional Indonesia and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducted trilateral airborne operations with the 36th Airlift Squadron during exercise Super Garuda Airborne 2022 in Baturaja, Indonesia on Aug. 3, 2022.

The operation is the kick-off event for Super Garuda Shield 2022. Part of Operation Pathways, Garuda Shield is a longstanding annual, bilateral military exercise conducted between the U.S. military and Indonesia National Armed Forces. The exercise reinforces the U.S. commitments to allies and regional partners, ensures joint readiness and bolsters interoperability to fight and win together.

The 2022 Garuda Shield exercise is significantly larger in scope and scale than previous exercises. Service members from Indonesia and the United States will be joined this year by those from Australia, Japan and Singapore. In addition to the active participants, Canada, France, India, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the United Kingdom are expected to join Super Garuda Shield as observer nations.

“We were really focusing on partnership,” said Lt. Col. Ben Wisnioski, assistant Army attaché, U.S. Defense Attaché Office Jakarta, Indonesia. “We focused on training, working with each other, and building significant rapport.”

Hundreds of distinguished visitors including Gen. Charles Flynn, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, watched as over 200 paratroopers jumped into the fields and dense tropical forests of Baturaja.

“It was the softest landing I’ve ever had,” said Wisnioski with a smile, as he pointed at his uniform, doused in thick mud.

The paratroopers then completed an airborne seizure, navigating through narrow bridges, marshes, and dense foliage to reach their objectives.

Following the parachute portion of the operation, representatives from the three armies participated in a wing exchange ceremony. Gen. Andika Perkasa, commander, Tentara Nasional Indonesia, and Lt. Gen. Kuzuki Ushijima, command chief of staff, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, pinned wings onto six U.S. Army paratroopers.

“We’re here for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Green, 2nd Platoon, Apache Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 11th Infantry Division (Airborne). “We’re just here to let our partners know we’re here to help. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

In addition to the ceremony Soldiers from the United States, Tentara Nasional Indonesia and Australian Army, showcased weapon systems to the senior leaders and distinguished visitors.

Sgt. Alexander Clarke, mortarman with 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Division, explained the functions and capabilities of the M224, 60mm Lightweight Company Mortar System.

“It’s just breaking down our capabilities and what makes them the best that we’ve got,” said Clarke. “I think we’re super grateful to be able to train alongside the [Tentara Nasional Indonesia] and get to know them better. It builds that cohesion.”

Super Garuda Shield provides opportunities for Department of Defense experimentation and joint collaboration. The exercise increases readiness of both for all participating nations. With focus on specific tasks, tactics and procedures to conduct combined arms maneuver, air assault, aviation and mission command.

By SGT Nicholle Salvatierra

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Sunday, July 3rd, 2022

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Army Re-Activates Historic Airborne Unit, Reaffirms Commitment to Arctic Strategy

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – Several hundred Soldiers gathered in formation within the Alaskan Interior on a bright June morning Monday to take part in the activation of the 11th Airborne Division, posturing U.S. forces for strategic advantage in the harsh Arctic terrain.

The 11th Airborne Division unites about 12,000 Soldiers in Alaska under one flag, marking the first time that the Army has activated an airborne division in 70 years. During flag ceremonies Monday at Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, shortened as JBER, the Army also re-designated the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, formerly of the 25th Infantry Division, into the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Teams of the 11th Airborne, respectively.

The activation reaffirms the Army’s commitment to its recently announced Arctic Strategy, which outlines the service’s plan to equip, organize and train with partner units to establish military dominance in the region. The division will be headquartered at JBER and members will wear the unit’s distinctive blue patch with a red and white emblem with angel wings to symbolize the unit’s call sign, “Angels.”

“Wherever you go, you will be the most highly trained, disciplined and fit Arctic warfighting unit in the world; ready to fight and win,” Army Chief of Staff, Gen. James C. McConville said to Soldiers at Fort Wainwright. “That is what you will do. That is who you are. We are counting on you.”


(Photo Credit: Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Patrick Sullivan)

The activation also serves another purpose. By uniting the Army units as one airborne unit, Army leaders hope the activation can ignite a greater a sense of camaraderie and enthusiasm for Soldiers serving in one of the U.S. military’s most remote and desolate locations.

In recent months, the Army’s senior leaders have met with commanders at Alaskan installations to address quality of life concerns of Soldiers. Assessments revealed that the previous unit designations did not support unit cohesion.

“Experience has told us that units that have a common unit identity is a source of pride,” McConville said during a meeting with reporters. “It’s extremely important. And the history of a unit and the patch matter.”

McConville said the Soldiers of the 11th Airborne Division will be equipped with cold weather gear within the next 1 to 2 years. He added that the unit will serve as the Army’s leading experts for Arctic military operations.

McConville said that the Stryker Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Wainwright will transition to become a more mobile, infantry-based brigade combat team bolstered with a stronger air assault capability and the skills to maneuver effectively in extreme cold weather environments.

McConville added that the Army plans to move the armored Strykers out of Alaska by the end of the summer as it continues the acquisition process of Cold Weather, All-Terrain Vehicles or CATVs.

The 11th Airborne Division originally played a critical role during World War II and the Vietnam War. The Army credits the unit with the amphibious assault landing at Luzon, Philippines, and eventually helped secure the liberation of Manila from Japanese forces.

“The 11th Airborne Division has a storied history of valor during World War II in the Pacific and also has a proud history of innovation,” McConville said. “So we expect them to live up to the legacy … We expect them to be masters of their craft in Arctic warfighting and extreme cold weather and high altitude and terrain. We expect them to develop innovative ways of operating in this environment.”

The Army now has a strategically located unit that can quickly deploy to any region, especially those in cold weather climates such as Nepal and India.

“Their focus will be on dismounted and Arctic mobility and capabilities of sustained operation in the Arctic [and] extreme cold weather,” said 11th Airborne Division Commander Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler. “In addition, they will providing those capabilities in other cold weather environments.”

Eifler added that U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Charles A. Flynn traveled to Nepal to meet with Nepalese leaders on coordinating more training opportunities with U.S. Army infantry brigade combat teams. Eifler said that includes the possibility of taking part in a joint expedition on Mount Everest.

By Joe Lacdan, Army News Service