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Rapid Resolve II

By CPO Tim Adams
First published in
SFOR Informer #93, August 2, 2000

Camp Comanche - For centuries the steep mountains and valleys of Bosnia and Hercegovina impeded invading armies, but on a recent sunny afternoon that same terrain assisted an advancing force by masking its movements.

Six C-130 Hercules aircrafts packed with nearly 200 paratroopers streaked into the coast from Italy at speeds up to 600 kilometres per hour before they stealthily manoeuvred up the valleys using the Balkan buttes to cloak their charge from radar. Each aircraft was in precise position to do a special job when it emerged over the drop zone near Camp Comanche in Multi-National Division North (MND-N.) Some of them jammed radio and radar frequencies while others discharged flares and chaff to divert surface-to-air missiles.

The timing, speed and spacing of each airship had been carefully worked out in the planning stages of Operation Rapid Resolve II. All the elements were synchronised and choreographed like a great ballet in the sky. In precise sequence, paratroopers spewed from the sides of the big birds at a surprising speed.

The clear skies were suddenly filled with billowing clouds of parachutes that precipitated sky soldiers and dripping weapons.
Then, just as quickly as they appeared, the aircraft were gone and the skies were calm and clear again. The action now was on the ground where US Army paratroopers assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy, and Italian paratroopers from the Alpini Parachute Brigade skillfully scrambled to establish defensive perimeters and repacked their gear. All 194 jumpers reported to their respective chalks without a single serious injury and were ready to carry out the rest of their missions.

Operation Rapid Resolve is designed to exercise and demonstrate NATO's ability to reinforce SFOR's assets with Strategic Reserve Forces that are stationed over the horizon, out of theatre, according to Capt. Kyle Hadlock, an operations officer with the Southern European Task Force. "We're testing the deployment capabilities of our paratroopers and our rapid response ability," said Hadlock. He also explained that NATO is always prepared to reinforce its deployed forces by quickly projecting power from great distances.

One objective of Operation Rapid Resolve II was to give the different nationalities of MND-N the chance to work together with elements of SFOR's Strategic Reserve. After the airborne insertion, the paratroopers were lifted out of the drop zone by helicopters simulating battlefield conditions. The troops then spent several days participating in ground reconnaissance patrols with personnel from MND-N, the Nordic-Polish Battle Group and the Turkish battalion.

"I think the experience and the chance to work with other troops is great," said Pfc. David Jones. "Just being in field and training with other nations is worth it."
One of Jones' counterparts agreed.
"We don't see any problems because we use the same techniques and we speak a similar military language," said Italian Army Capt. Massimo Daves, Commander of the Alpini Parachute Platoon.
"We incorporate these paratroopers into the normal operations of SFOR and have them work as a team with other forces," said Finnish Army Maj. Manu Tuominen, chief of training and exercises for MND-N. "For us, it is a big challenge to test our ability to incorporate these reinforcements in a short time and make it fully operable."

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: US, Italy