Capitalizing on more than a decade of combined-U.S. and U.K. operations experience gained throughout the War on Terror, the 82nd Airborne Division is now taking the next step to achieve interoperability with coalition partners in the future.
Interoperability is the division’s multinational partnership program intended to foster trust and build closer relationships with key international crisis response force partners, an effort expected to ultimately pay off with an increased military capability to meet myriad complex threats around the world.
The 82nd Abn. Div., the Joint Forcible Entry component of the Global Response Force, is seeking to integrate the British quick response unit, the 16th Air Assault Brigade, into combined training in preparation for a multinational crisis response force.
“I’ve been in the army for 14 years and never been on an independent operation at all; they’ve all been … coalition in some sort of way. Unilateral action is not really the way of the future and it certainly hasn’t been the way of the immediate past either.”
“It’s absolutely critical,” said Maj. Haydn Gaukroger, the commander of B Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, 16th Air Asslt. Bde. “I’ve been in the army for 14 years and never been on an independent operation at all; they’ve all been … coalition in some sort of way. Unilateral action is not really the way of the future and it certainly hasn’t been the way of the immediate past either.”
For both nations, years of counterinsurgency-focused operations have caused some capabilities to atrophy. Limited resources and tightened budgets loom. An ever-changing geopolitical environment means the challenges to America’s Guard of Honor and its allies are becoming more complex every day. The Interoperability Program seeks to counter those challenges by strengthening the readiness of U.S. and coalition partners
through side-by-side training to meld tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) and provide opportunities to employ the best of both military’s assets.
For the last month, the division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team has integrated a company from the British army’s 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, into their day-to-day operations. The brigade’s field training exercise from August 5-12 served as the culminating event for the combined team of 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment plus the 3 PARA’s B Coy., setting the stage for interoperable company teams ready to respond to global contingencies as part of a combined battalion task force. The FTX was one of the first milestones in the effort to make the 82nd Abn. Div. and the 16th Air Asslt. Bde. the national response forces of choice.
“The GRF is sort of one level up, one size bigger, than what we provide with our own version of the GRF (the U.K.’s Air Assault Task Force),” said Gaukroger. “If we could nest the two within each other, our capabilities would be far more than they are individually. We’ve got lots of complimenting sort of activity and the Soldiers could work together really well.”
“Training exercises like this and that are going to happen next year are exactly the kind of things we need to do in order to be prepared completely as a GRF, or quick reaction force, to an increasingly dynamic world.”
At this time, a combined 82nd and 16th planning effort is underway to include an entire battalion from the British Air Assault Brigade in the spring of 2015 Joint Operational Access Exercise. The JOAX is the joint training exercise held regularly on Fort Bragg that validates the crisis response and forcible entry capabilities of the U.S. Army and Air Force. That combined, joint training exercise will help set the conditions to integrate a 16th Air Asslt. Bde. task force into the GRF.
“The relationships that are built on operational tours take some time and what we’re trying to do is speed up the rate in which we learn to work together to maximum effect,” said Lt. Tom Whittle, the executive officer of B Coy., 3 PARA. “Training exercises like this and that are going to happen next year are exactly the kind of things we need to do in order to be prepared completely as a GRF, or quick reaction force, to an increasingly dynamic world.”