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Making it look Easy isn’t always Easy...

By Master Sgt. Mark Bell | U.S. Army Reserve Command | March 15, 2017

March 13, 2017 — Snow, sleet and frigid temperatures were no match for America’s Army Reserve and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), who joined forces to kick off more than a week-long Army Reserve-led multi-component airfield seizure exercise here March 9-17, 2017.

The Screaming Eagles, assigned to Company A (Easy Company), 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, joined the Army Reserve’s 78th Training Division to kick off Warrior Exercise 78-17-01.

Col. Eric Lopez, the Deputy Operations Officer for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), called Easy Company “America’s 9-1-1” as part of the Army’s Global Response Force required for unforeseen and unplanned operations.

“This is their job right now to be ready and to respond to any of the nation’s calls,” Lopez said. “This exercise with the Army Reserve is a great opportunity for them to exercise their readiness and show they are ready for the Global Response Force Mission.”

Nearly 100 “White Currahee” Soldiers from the division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team flew from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to JBMDL into sub-freezing temperatures on the front end of a nor’easter winter storm that would eventually send the McGuire Air Force Base’s C-17s and KC-130s into hibernation in South Carolina for several days.

To achieve the mission to ‘engage and destroy the enemy’ at two separate objectives, Easy Company Soldiers loaded ruck sacks packed with several days-worth of supplies and ammunition onto six Army Reserve UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from 8th Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment, for the hour-long flight to Lakehurst’s Maxfield Field on March 13, 2017.

Lopez said inclement weather was just the icing on the cake for the infantry company as one of WAREX 78-17-01’s primary missions is to build readiness in the total force. The Army Reserve’s 84th Training Command develops each WAREX as a large-scale collective training event specifically designed to assess units’ unique combat capabilities.

“What you see is a symbiotic relationship between Guard, Reserve, active [Army] and our joint brothers and sisters,” he said about the collective effort to provide relevant and realistic collective training for joint, active, and reserve-component forces through the Army Reserve’s Combat Support Training Program. “What this exercise allows us to do is work together like we will down range in combat.”

Lt. Col. John Kaires, an operations planner for the 78th Training Division, said the WAREX was the perfect tool to work on systems and relationships during an exercise that ultimately builds readiness of each participating organization. Kaires said active duty units are no stranger to WAREX, but the first one of 2017 kicked off with a little twist. For the first time at a WAREX, the Army Reserve provided support to an active Army unit being validated for the Global Response Force mission.

“Normally, we have our active duty brothers and sisters provide opposition forces to help train our Army Reserve units going through training exercises, but this is our first opportunity where we are involving not only the active component but including the Air Force and Marines as a training audience.”

Army Reserve UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters from 8th Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment, based out of Fort Knox, Ky., drop off Soldiers assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Lakehurst Maxfield Field during a multi-component airfield seizure training exercise between the Army Reserve and the 101st Airborne Division on March 13, 2017 to kick off Warrior Exercise 78-17-01. Several Army Reserve organizations including the Army Reserve Aviation Command, 84th Training Command, 78th Training Division, and members of the 200th Military Police Command helped Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division conduct the mission. Roughly 60 units from the U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and Canadian Armed Forces are participating in the 84th Training Command’s joint training exercise, WAREX 78-17-01, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst from March 8 until April 1, 2017; the WAREX is a large-scale collective training event designed to assess units’ combat capabilities as America’s Army Reserve continues to build the most capable, combat-ready, and lethal Federal Reserve force in the history of the Nation. (Army Reserve Photo by Sgt. Stephanie Ramirez/ Released)
WAREX 78-17-01
Army Reserve UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters from 8th Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment, based out of Fort Knox, Ky., drop off Soldiers assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Lakehurst Maxfield Field during a multi-component airfield seizure training exercise between the Army Reserve and the 101st Airborne Division on March 13, 2017 to kick off Warrior Exercise 78-17-01. Several Army Reserve organizations including the Army Reserve Aviation Command, 84th Training Command, 78th Training Division, and members of the 200th Military Police Command helped Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division conduct the mission. Roughly 60 units from the U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and Canadian Armed Forces are participating in the 84th Training Command’s joint training exercise, WAREX 78-17-01, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst from March 8 until April 1, 2017; the WAREX is a large-scale collective training event designed to assess units’ combat capabilities as America’s Army Reserve continues to build the most capable, combat-ready, and lethal Federal Reserve force in the history of the Nation. (Army Reserve Photo by Sgt. Stephanie Ramirez/ Released)
WAREX 78-17-01
Army Reserve UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters from 8th Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment, based out of Fort Knox, Ky., drop off Soldiers assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Lakehurst Maxfield Field during a multi-component airfield seizure training exercise between the Army Reserve and the 101st Airborne Division on March 13, 2017 to kick off Warrior Exercise 78-17-01. Several Army Reserve organizations including the Army Reserve Aviation Command, 84th Training Command, 78th Training Division, and members of the 200th Military Police Command helped Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division conduct the mission. Roughly 60 units from the U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and Canadian Armed Forces are participating in the 84th Training Command’s joint training exercise, WAREX 78-17-01, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst from March 8 until April 1, 2017; the WAREX is a large-scale collective training event designed to assess units’ combat capabilities as America’s Army Reserve continues to build the most capable, combat-ready, and lethal Federal Reserve force in the history of the Nation. (Army Reserve Photo by Sgt. Stephanie Ramirez/ Released)
Photo By: Sgt. Stephanie Ramirez
VIRIN: 170313-A-FQ191-051
As the swarm of helicopters appeared over the tree tops and quickly landed on two separate landing zones to drop off dozens of infantrymen, the once quiet airfield was transformed into a hotbed of firepower as Easy Company Soldiers quickly established ground superiority at the end of the runway.

As the helicopters ascended out of the area, Soldiers rapidly established a tight perimeter and provided indirect fire support with mortar rounds to disrupt enemy activity. As the company commander established command and control, his fire teams moved like a well-rehearsed machine toward the objectives.

Within minutes Easy Company moved into the wood line on both sides of the runway -- on the hunt for the enemy.

Enemy forces were hidden deep in the thick vegetation to protect nearby anti-aircraft guns. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 200th Military Police Command had the role of opposition forces to disrupt any plans the company commander had rehearsed. Armed with individual and crew-served weapons, the OPFOR challenged Easy Company as they methodically moved forward to seize control of the weapons and open the airfield for follow-on missions.

There were dozens of small firefights on both sides of the mile-long runway. Within two hours, the light infantry company destroyed the enemy and secured the airfield for large transport aircraft to bring more muscle to the fight for WAREX 78-17-01.

Lopez said the training missions the Army Reserve provided including the airfield seizure and follow-on combat operations was a valuable tool to successfully measure the Global Response Force’s readiness.

“This is a great example of all components working together to build readiness,” he said.

WAREX exercises are designed to prepare units to be combat-ready by immersing them in scenarios where they train as they would fight. Taking the fight to the enemy is a joint effort, and the airfield seizure is just one example of how having active duty and Army Reserve components training together is essential to their success on the battlefield, said Kaires.

“We always tell our Soldiers we must train as we fight,” he said. “This week with Easy Company, we did just that and took the fight to the enemy using multi-component and sister service assets and won the battle.”

He said this exercise was not only important to the 101st Airborne Division but an important step in building the most capable, combat-ready and lethal federal reserve force in history.

“Having our Soldiers working side-by-side our active duty infantry company is a win for both sides,” Kaires said about how the 78th Training Division uses an Integrated Training Environment to provide a complex and realistic training environment for multi-component, joint and multi-national forces. “The WAREX will help us provide a comprehensive assessment of how well the Army Reserve is postured to support the Army against quick-striking, near-peer adversaries.”

More than 300,000 Army Reserve Soldiers have mobilized and deployed in support of the total Army and joint force since Sept. 11, 2001. Since 2012, the 84th Training Command has trained nearly 105,000 of those Soldiers.