By Buddy Blouin
During World War II, Germany changed history in many ways, including the creation of paratroopers. America shortly followed suit, but if you believe that the paratrooper is any less valuable to keeping the United States secure, you’d be sorely mistaken. If anything, the inaugural Association of the U.S. Army Warfighter Summit in Fayetteville, North Carolina, proved that paratroopers are a necessity and only growing in importance. Fort Bragg Army leaders continue to look towards the future of the Army as the military base continues to produce some of the prototypical archetypes of a military parachutist, ready to serve at a moment’s notice.

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What Is a Paratrooper?

A paratrooper is a military-trained parachutist. Part madman, part hero, paratroopers up the ante on the already insane dangers of war by adding the fact that they are some of the first on the battlefield, then jump out of a plane. Even beyond the obvious threats from incoming enemy fire, a paratrooper will have to overcome various potential hazards, including navigating strange terrain, the potential for separation from their fellow troops, surviving in the wilderness, and more. The operations of a paratrooper are primarily behind enemy lines. Getting paratrooper boots on the ground takes a collaborative effort across multiple military branches. You’ll also note that military exercises using paratroopers can also call for collaborating with military forces outside of the U.S. while working towards a common goal.

The 82nd Airborne Division

Having an Airborne Infantry continues to keep world peace a reality in various parts of the world. Most notably, paratroopers are a major part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). Fort Bragg paratroopers continue to see rapid no-notice deployments and work with foreign allies as an important part of their role. This was discussed in detail at the Association of the U.S. Army Warfighter Summit, noting the impressive training and readiness of the 18th Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division, and Special Forces. The 82nd's Immediate Response Force has seen itself rapidly deployed as many as four times throughout the last two years. Recently, this was seen during a trip to Poland. “When they come here, they know that they are going to be the initial ready force, and what they have demonstrated to me is that they are ready,” said Gen. James. McConville while praising the Division during a media day at the Summit. Fort Bragg continues to build a strong U.S. Army paratrooper program by being able to respond to threats within 96 hours anywhere in the world. More impressively, most of the responses can be conducted in at little as 18 hours, according to the Chief of Staff for the 18th Airborne Corps, Brig. Gen. John Cogbill. “Eighteen hours is synonymous with our deployments because that's kind of what people expect,” said Cogbill.

Training and Technology Bolster the American Paratrooper

The WW2 paratrooper and modern paratrooper may both risk life and limb to get behind enemy lines, but what goes into these missions has changed dramatically. It’s the expert training and innovative technology that keep American paratroopers ready to fight in ways other forces cannot. We’re continuing to see an emphasis on such response teams, thanks to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Earlier in 2022, Russian paratroopers landed in Ukraine's Kharkiv, and the overall conflict continues to draw international interests months after the initial attack. Such military aggressions have heightened the importance of the Defender Europe and Swift Response exercises the 82nd participated in. Overall, there were more than 50,000 soldiers from 19 countries working together, as the NRF requires interoperability for its success. Tensions continue to mount due to a wide range of geopolitical issues involving the U.S., and staying ready is imperative. However the Army continues to innovate and test, technology is no substitute for troops being ready to execute their missions. In an ideal world, hopefully, we never truly understand just how ready the 82nd Division and others fighting around the world are to respond swiftly and effectively. But should the time come, America continues to prove that its contributions from its paratrooper programs are ready to withstand any foreign threat, no matter how large.

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