By SARAH BLAKE MORGAN, Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — On New Year’s Eve, hundreds of Fort Bragg-based paratroopers went from relaxing at home with their families to deploying to the Middle East within hours. It’s something the was 82nd Airborne’s Immediate Response Force prepares for constantly.
This week, readiness preparation will continue for U.S. forces as they take part in a multinational training exercise in Colombia. On Thursday, 75 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division will team up with their Colombian counterparts for training both on the ground and in the air.
“Colombia is our closest, most capable partner in the region. We have decades of history working together,” U.S. Southern Command Military Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Michael Plehn told the Associated Press.
While there, Paratroopers will use U.S. C-130 Hercules aircraft to simulate airborne assault exercises and work to secure an airfield.
Plehn says these training missions, frequently conducted by U.S. Southern Command across the region, are about preparedness.
“You have to build trust all the time. Not just when you think you might need it,” Plehn said.
Relationship building is also paramount, according to Plehn. While these multinational paratroopers may start off as strangers, he says a week of training together brings them together with a common understanding.
“You realize what we’re all fighting for when we put on this uniform,” he said. “We’re fighting for democracy. We’re fighting for respect for human rights.”
The 82nd Airborne Division and U.S. Army support forces will be training in Colombia through January 29.