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NEWS | June 25, 2015

Airborne Engineers Jump, Assault, Repair

By Cpl. Tyler S. Giguere, Northern Edge 15 Joint Information Bureau Eielson Public Affairs

High in the sky, chutes opened wide as men and women parachuted onto an enemy airfield. After quickly grouping together, the engineers seized the surrounding location and pushed on to establish a presence on the runways.  Combat engineer mine sweepers moved in while other combat engineers set up an area of fire. With the area secure, engineers hastily mobilized vehicles and equipment to begin repairs to the damaged runways.

The engineers with the 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, were participating in a simulated airfield seizure during a mission as part of Northern Edge 2015, in Alaska. The main goals of the exercise were to see how well the engineers could repair damaged runways and to test joint service airborne drop capabilities.

"We are out here today on Allen Army Airfield; my battalion just jumped in to do an airfield seizure as a part of Northern Edge 15," said Lt. Col. George H. Walter, the battalion commander for the 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. "Northern Edge 15 is a joint multi-component and multi-composition exercise involving about 6,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. It's a part of a large operation taking place in Alaska, which is one of the premier training grounds in the United States. In addition to being a great place to train, it has strategic importance with the access we provide by location to the rest of Pacific."

The exercise has a large focus on joint service cooperation, which involves multiple bases and units from all over the globe.

"We parachuted in by U.S. Air Force aircraft," said Walter. "Once my force had assembled and we reached minimum combat power effective to go out and do our mission, we secured the area via blocking positions at the screen line, we established our fires, which are internally provided as well as external fires provided by the Air Force, which is flying overhead of us and Marines Corps ANGLICOs [Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Companies] on the ground."

One of the primary objectives was the repair and recovery of the taxiways and runways. The engineers use a variety of heavy vehicle equipment and man portable equipment to conduct the mission.

"Today we did our airfield seizure, part of the joint airfield seizure operation," said 2nd Lt. Paul Rogers, a platoon leader for Breacher Company, 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. "My platoon has the light airfield repair package and that is an aerial delivery system that repairs airfield runways."

A U.S. Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance Company team surveyed the airfield prior to the soldiers' arrival and reported any damage incurred. The damage was initially thought to have been worse, but after assessments the airfield was determined to only have light surface damage.

"We are able to jump into any airfield, and once the area has been established, we assess the surface for any damage, and then we can repair that," Rogers explained.
The successful repair of the runway allowed for follow on forces to land using the airfield, aid with resupply and allow for aircraft takeoffs to commence.

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