PAPA AIR BASE, Hungary –
Two Army National Guard Soldiers and one Army Reserve Soldier is participating in Exercise Swift Response 21 as part of 173rd Airborne Brigade in Papa Air Base, Hungary. Exercise Swift Response 21 occurred May 6-11 as the joint forcible entry portion of DEFENDER-Europe 21.
Swift Response 21 validated U.S. European Command's ability to send high readiness forces into a designated area via an airborne exercise spearheaded by the 82nd Airborne Division, and consisting of strategic jumps and airlifts as part of a joint forcible entry (JFE) in three countries to seize key terrain.
These three Soldiers are a part of the contingency operation for active duty operational support (CO-ADOS) program and have been seamlessly integrated with their new colleagues to ensure the success of the multiple operations going into the exercise.
“It’s a unique experience helping the brigade get ready for airborne [and} air assault operations,” said Maj. Sara Alan, Force Modernization Chief, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade. Alan comes from Joint Forces Headquarters, California National Guard.
“I’m also just getting together with all the different battalions to see what assistance they need when it comes to new equipment fielding and training for whatever is coming down next fiscal year.”
These Soldiers are able to serve in CO-ADOS positions in one-year increments for a maximum of four years. As part of this mission, they help units execute unique missions, build working relationships and increase the brigade’s combat capabilities exponentially.
“It’s been great," said Sgt.1st Class John Faller, logistics operations noncommissioned officer, 173rd Brigade Support Battalion. Faller’s home unit is 1st Squadron, 214th Cavalry, Texas Army National Guard.
“I was welcomed in and they made it known to me right off the bat that I was a combat multiplier and set me running. It’s been a pretty seamless transition really, I’m not treated any different than the other active-duty Soldiers and that’s actually a good thing.”
As another combat multiplier in exercise Swift Response 21, Spc. Giovanny Lopez is a combat camera man serving at the brigade’s Public Affairs section. Lopez serves with 982nd Combat Camera Company, U.S. Army Reserve in Georgia.
“This exercise and this assignment have been quite interesting,” said Lopez. “I’ve been seeing a lot of equipment that I’ve never seen before and also experiencing more close contact with airborne units and staff. Especially with the riggers that I’ve seen in videos and interviews but I have never seen them in person. So everything is very exciting and new to me.”
While the CO-ADOS Soldiers were assigned to the brigade before the exercise, their presence and support to the brigade is critical to operations like Swift Response 21. The necessity to spread forces across multiple staging and operating bases, provide logistical support and inform the public is a key piece of these missions. The professional and capable augmentees from the reserve forces help make this happen.
This exercise not only tested the 173rd’s ability to shoot, move and communicate but also increased interoperability with NATO allies; as well as showcased allied access across three different countries.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army’s Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deployable forces for combatant commanders in the Africa, Central and European command areas of responsibility. Forward deployed across Italy and Germany, the brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build partnerships and strengthen the alliance. As America’s only forward stationed airborne brigade, it is strategically positioned to rapidly deploy into an ambiguous operational environment to seize, retain and exploit the initiative, supporting the joint and coalition force to decisively win.