Over 500 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Soldiers out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, jumped from airplanes during a simulated airborne air assault at White Sands Missile Range’s Space Harbor Sept. 27 as part of the Network Integration Evaluation 16.1 Exercise. WSMR hosted more than 1,000 Soldiers for the event.
“Today’s event was to capture and seize an airfield held by enemy forces,” said Jay Hayden, Chief of System of Systems Branch, Materiel Test Directorate on WSMR.
Once the Soldiers seized the airfield, two C-17s landed with additional equipment and troops in order to defeat enemy forces and proceeded south to follow an objective at Fort Bliss, Texas.
This NIE is different than previous tests because it will be the final proof of concept for a new annual evaluation called Army Warfighting Assessments.
“It enables the Army to evaluate concepts, ideas, and actual equipment being used in a real operation, and to determine if the equipment will enhance the capabilities of the fighting force,” Hayden said.
The main focus of the scenario held on WSMR was to assess the capabilities of the Ground Mobility Vehicle, one of three concept vehicles, in a simulated combat environment.
“We own our own air space,” said WSMR Chief of Public Affairs Erin Dorrance. “This also shows White Sands Missile Range’s capabilities. The ability to use White Sands Space Harbor shows that White Sands is capable of serving its customers.”
According to Brig. Gen. Brian E. Winski, 82nd Airborne Division Deputy Commanding General of Operations, 2nd BCT paratroopers took advantage of the unique terrain WSMR and Fort Bliss have to offer.
“Its large and expansive and you have the ability to get all the systems out and operational over doctrinally correct distances, and it’s a very unique venue to do that,” Winski said.
“We are working with 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss and the communication has been great, which is a key part to the success of this exercise,” said Col. Joe Ryan, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Commander, as his headquarters unit set up an inflatable satellite and radios to establish communications.
NIE 16.1 is the tenth in a series of Soldier-led tests held in a realistic operational environment at Fort Bliss, White Sands Missile Range, and Holloman Air Force Base. The exercise is scheduled for Sept. 25 to Oct. 8, and will include over 10,000 Army and Air Force personnel, a brigade from the United Kingdom, an Italian airborne battalion and approximately 800 personnel from 13 North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries. For more photos of the 82nd Airborne Division jump at the Space Harbor click on the photo album at www.flickr.com/photos/whitesandsmissilerange/.