Magazine article Warrior - Citizen

Maintaining Readiness: Civil Affairs Unit Prepares for Joint Operation

Magazine article Warrior - Citizen

Maintaining Readiness: Civil Affairs Unit Prepares for Joint Operation

Article excerpt

FORT PICKETT, Va. - The day brought a light rain and low clouds to south central Virginia that delayed a planned airborne jump for several hours. Shortly before noon, Soldiers were finishing a lunch of Meals Ready to Eat when unit officials decided to proceed with the jump.

The Riverdale, Md., based 450th Civil Affairs Battalion traveled to Fort Pickett, Va., to participate in a four-day training exercise focusing on jump readiness and weapons qualifications Nov. 19 - 22. The exercise helped prepare the unit for Operation Southbound Trooper, a joint operation with a Civil-Military Cooperation Unit of the Canadian Army.

The jumpers donned their parachutes and boarded a Hercules C-130. By 2 p.m., as the plane flew 1,000 feet above Fort Pickett's Blackstone Army Airfield, jumpers began exiting the 0130*5 left -side door, just before dusk, the C-130 completed its tenth and final pass over the airfield. A total of 70 Soldiers had made the jump.

One of the first timers was Pfc. Stephen Peck, from Baltimore, Md., who joined the unit in February 2009. Prior to firing 12 live rounds, he was given a one-on-one coaching session on how to handle and fire a pistol by MaJ. William T. Birch, the 450th CAB's planning officer. Birch said that if Peck was completing an actual qualification, "he would have qualified as an expert, having missed only one target." Birch, a former federal agent firearms training officer, said, "I like providing leadership to the young Soldiers."

The group ranged from new to seasoned Soldiers. …

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