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NEWS | Feb. 21, 2020

Joint airborne operation enhances interagency state capabilities

By Sgt. Tackora Hand Indiana National Guard

COLUMBUS, Ind. – Members of the Indiana National Guard joined forces with Ohio, Illinois and Idaho to conduct static-line, non‐tactical airborne operations from a C-130 Hercules at Columbus Airfield Feb. 18-19.

This exercise provided the opportunity to conduct a currency jump and execute joint training with members of Scott Air Force Base, Idaho National Guard, and the Ohio Army Reserve.

“We have a lot of guys here from around the country that needed specific training to stay current,” said Indiana National Guard 1st Sgt. Tom Farrington, airborne commander for the jump. “In the airborne community, readiness isn’t just about our guys; it’s about the total force because we never know who we will go into combat with.”

Farrington said collaborating with senior jumpmasters from other organizations improves the programs and ensures maximum readiness.

“This is not a mandatory drill for us, and we have four jumpers here. When we jump with these guys, we always get more jumps than we normally would,” said Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Jacob Showerman with the 412th Army Reserve Civil Affairs Battalion. “We enjoy coming up here because these guys are serious about training to the standard, and that’s what you want during airborne operations.”

Exercises like this provide process improvement opportunities, such as rapid placement of forces. Swift deployment of ground forces in an area of operations is critical to building combat capability.

“Our main priority is the safety of the jumpers and ensuring there are no deficiencies in the parachutes,” said Indiana National Guard Spc. Rachel Austin, a rigger with the 338th Quartermaster. “We take pride in every airborne operation we execute, but this operation is unique because of the various components we get to work beside.”

In addition to promoting interoperability between the Indiana and Idaho National Guard, U.S. Air Force, and Army Reserve, the exercise focused on the ability to demonstrate vital competencies in airborne operations.

“It’s a humbling experience to be able to push more than 25 Soldiers out of an aircraft to safe landings in one day,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matt Purdy, the joint exercise primary jumpmaster. “It was a total team effort to pull this mission off.”