JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – “Anywhere, anytime.”
It's a slogan that the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne),
25th Infantry Division has made its own and lived by for the last
year. It started when the Spartan Brigade flew 15 hours non-stop
across the Pacific Ocean in July 2013 and parachuted into northern
Australia for Exercise Talisman Sabre. Rinse and repeat in
mid-February 2014 as the Spartans demonstrated their quick reaction
capabilities by flying 16 hours non-stop out of Alaska and
parachuting into central Thailand for Exercise Cobra Gold.
follow-on combat equipment jump into Deadhorse, Alaska, in
late-February 2014, where temperatures on the ground flirted with
-30 degrees Fahrenheit, served as a confirmation and manifestation
of the brigade's “Arctic Tough” mentality.
And, now, the
Spartans have validated their ability to deploy rapidly and conduct
missions across the globe by completing a rotation at the Joint
Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.
U.S. Army Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment,
4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division
keep watch from a fighting position at the Joint Readiness Training
Center in Fort Polk, La., April 18, 2014. The Soldiers were
conducting defensive operations as part of a decisive action
training environment exercise. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt.
Christopher Klutts, 20th Public Affairs Detachment)
“Airborne units are inherently light and agile forces,”
explained Col. Matthew W. McFarlane, the Spartan Brigade's
commanding officer. “We can be on our way to virtually
anywhere in the world in 18 hours or less to conduct any one
of a host of missions and our specific mission set at JRTC
additionally required rapid integration of, and
synchronization with, multiple enablers – which we'd never
worked with before – in order to be successful.”
be sure, the Spartan Brigade initially worked hand-in-hand
with elements of the 5th Special Forces Group, headquartered
at Fort Campbell, Ky., to set conditions for mission success
at JRTC. Additionally, the Spartan Brigade was augmented by
numerous enabler units, which enhanced the brigade's
battlefield effectiveness. Among them was an aviation
battalion task force from the 3rd Infantry Division at
Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., a company of Strykers from the
1st Stryker Brigade, 25th Infantry Division at Fort
Wainwright, Alaska, and an Army Reserve civil affairs
company and psychological operations detachment from Arden
Hills, Minn. and Austin, Texas, respectively.
unit in the brigade task force, organic and attached,
brought something unique to the fight and we were able to
integrate all of our assets quickly in order to ensure that
our efforts were synchronized effectively across multiple
lines of operations,” said McFarlane.
The types of
missions that the Spartan Brigade has seen itself conducting
over the last year have been anything but the typical
counter-insurgency fare that the Army has grown accustomed
to in Southwest Asia the previous 13 years.
Talisman Sabre, the brigade executed an airfield seizure in
order to allow follow-on Australian forces to conduct
operations against a simulated near-peer threat. In Thailand
during Cobra Gold, airfield seizure was again the focus, but
emphasis was placed on providing follow-on humanitarian aid
and less so on combating a threat.
In stark contrast,
the jump into Deadhorse, also known as Operation Spartan
Pegasus, was centered on support to civil authorities by
rescuing the crew of a downed helicopter aircrew in a remote
and harsh environment.
At JRTC, the Spartan Brigade
experienced elements of Talisman Sabre, Cobra Gold and
Spartan Pegasus all rolled into one.
tested our ability to conduct different types of missions
simultaneously in conjunction with host nation security
forces and civilian organizations,” said Maj. Mark J. Wade,
the Spartan Brigade's operations officer. The rotation at
JRTC focused not only on airfield seizure as evacuation of
non-combatants and logistical coordination with
non-governmental organizations for humanitarian aid
distribution played a key factor in the Spartan Brigade's
training. “To top it off, all the while we were conducting
defensive and offensive combat operations alongside host
nation security forces against a near-peer military seeking
to overthrow the host nation government,” Wade added.
The Spartan Brigade's ability to deploy rapidly and
execute various missions, however, is just one part of a
much larger story that concerns itself with the vastness
that is the Asia-Pacific Theater.
In a region of the
world like the Asia-Pacific Theater, using the word “vast”
to describe it might be considered an understatement.
According to United States Pacific Command, the Asia-Pacific
Theater covers roughly half of the Earth's total surface
area wherein lies roughly half of the world's total
population. It stretches from the American west coast to
India's western border and from Antarctica to the North
Pole. All told, the Asia-Pacific Theater encompasses 3,000
different languages, two of the world's three largest
economies and the most populous nation in the world.
The Spartan Brigade isn't alone in its mission to cover down
on such an enormous area as it stands shoulder-to-shoulder
with various other combat units from across all of the
separate services positioned in the Pacific. However, it's
the brigade's uniqueness that sets it apart.
the only airborne brigade in the Pacific,” said McFarlane.
“When time is of the essence and you need someone on the
ground in hours, not days, the brigade can be the force of
As the Spartan Brigade heads into the mild
Alaskan summer season, the pace of operations that it has
experienced over the past year will not diminish. A slew of
planned operations are already on the table, to include
bilateral engagements and training exercises with partner
nations in the Asia-Pacific Theater such as Japan,
Bangladesh and Mongolia.
These exercises and others,
coupled with what the Spartans have already participated in,
will ensure that any future contingency mission in the
Pacific realm can and will be met with swiftness by the
Army's only Pacific airborne unit.
By U.S. Army 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Div. Public Affairs
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