chutePOFchute
Is pleased to inform its viewers that the Anglo-American Para bond is still going strong; even if we can't understand what the other is saying!!
The following is an excellent account of 
starEXERCISE PURPLE STARstar
aka. ROYAL DRAGON  

THE LARGEST ANGLO-US PARACHUTE DROP IN 23 YEARS
Brit FlagAm Flag
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WELCOMES THE PARAS
By Sergeant Steve McConnell,
3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment. 1975 - 1998.

Steve, enlisted into the Parachute Regiment in September 1975 at Browning Barracks Aldershot. After Basic training, he joined 3 Para who were part of 16 Independent Parachute Brigade. In his 24 years service, he has served in Canada, United States (Fort Lewis WA - Fort Bragg NC), Belize, Brunei, Africa, Germany and Hong-Kong.
In 1993, Steve took part in the Low Level Parachute trials in El Centro California. He has also completed 11 operational tours in Northern Ireland, and took part in the Falklands campaign with 3 Para in 1982.
Steve, retired from the army in June 1999.

Steve

Before Steve starts talking , he wants to say something:
I can tell you from experience (and a broken leg) this was the biggest thing I'd ever seen.  I think it may be of interest to your US readers.. By the way.... If you were wondering, it's spelt the way the English Spell, which I've now found out differs greatly from our US counterparts....<GRIN> Hope you enjoy reading it.

starExercise Purple Starstar of May 1996 
saw the deployment of 5 Airborne Brigade  to the American east coast State of North Carolina in the largest Anglo-American exercise for twenty three years. The aim of the operation was to practise a joint UK force in combined maneuvers in an overseas theatre. This was designed to test strategic deployment and command and control of the new Joint Rapid Deployment Force (JRDF) which formed on the 1st August 1996.

Since World War Two Britain has retained a parachute capability which has undergone vast changes over the intervening period. The final disbandment of  16 Independent Parachute Brigade (16 Ind Para Bde) in 1977 saw Britain's last brigade, reduced to three parachute battalions, employed as regular infantry with a parachuting capability. The strategy behind the cutbacks was to provide two in-role Parachute Battalions, with a third employed on other duties. Each battalion would rotate four years, in the parachute role; with two years out.In 1984 the Ministry of Defence decided that the United Kingdom needed an airborne capability.

The decision was made to restructure 5 Infantry 
Brigade (5 Inf Bde), fresh from its victory in the Falklands, into a new Airborne Brigade.
5 Airborne Brigade (5 AB Bde) would give 3 (United Kingdom) Division (3 UK Div) a brigade with lightly armed troops, and the ability to secure a point of entry into a troubled zone and to hold it to allow the arrival of heavier armed follow-on elements.
Falkland Victory
little low The introduction of the Irvin Mark 1 Low Level Parachute (LLP Mk1) in 1993 gave the brigade its unique capacity to deploy from a lower jump height. Combined with a significant increase in aircraft speed, to assist the rapid opening of the new parachute, soldiers could now drop from RAF C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, from as little as 250 feet. However, deploying from such a height would only be used in operations. 
This would allow aircraft to approach potentially dangerous Drop Zones (DZs), by flying under enemy radar, and exposing parachute troops to less ground fire while under the canopy.  Soldiers parachuting would be at risk in the air for only 11 seconds, opposed to almost 30 seconds with the old Irvin PX Mk4 parachute. 
The new system of delivery will support parachute operations of the 90's well into the next century. The new Joint Rapid Deployment Force (JRDF), comprising 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines (3 Cdo Bde RM), 5 Airborne Brigade (5AB Bde) and elements of special forces,  will be approximately 5000 strong. 
BritishParas
 It's designed to improve Britain's ability to react quickly and effectively to any major crisis overseas - the primary role being to respond to foreign aggression and to protect British interest world-wide. These units are ideal for such a credible reaction force .  Both brigades are light, with Comprehensive air and sea capabilities, and were used successfully to liberate the Falkland Islands in 1982.  It is hoped that the JRDF will play a major part in all  future NATO deployments. The 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment (2Para) from Aldershot 
deployed on the exercise, which was split into two phases.
Phase One, being held at Fort Bragg, concentrated on combined cross-training with the US forces. All British parachuting personnel had to undergo the American Basic Airborne Refresher (BAR) before being allowed to drop from US aircraft with American Parachutes. Initially the ground training introduced British troops to the US T-10C parachute, and covered aircraft and safety drills for the American version of the C-130 Hercules. 
C130
Paras in Air This was conducted by "Jump Masters" from the 82nd Airborne  Division and took place the day before the qualifying parachute jump. RAF Parachute Jump Instructors (PJIs) familiarised US troops with the new LLP Mk1 and the relevant drills for parachuting from British aircraft, which differ markedly from the US methods.  Safety procedures  which seem to be more intense under the RAF PJI's were something far different than the Americans expected, every stage from fitting equipment to hooking up was checked.  No troops  would leave the aircraft until the RAF were happy that all safety procedures were correct.The Americans jumped in the morning from RAF aircraft  with British equipment whilst 2 Para dropped in the afternoon from US aircraft, using American equipment.
Additional cross-training consisted of equipment familiarisation, range development work and Support Helicopter (SH) training.
Helicopter
Helicopters played a major part in the exercise allowing troops and equipment to be 
moved quickly around the battlefield.  They also provided an essential life line enabling food, ammunition and medical supplies to be passed forward to the units engaged in combat, casualty evacuation was practised with appointed exercise, and genuine injuries.  It was important prior to the major exercise that all British troops were familiar with the American support helicopters they would encounter, and all relevant safety drills and procedures. 
new LLP chute
On the left is a US soldier using the LLP Parachute on a training jump prior to the exercise.

A unique opportunity  was available to exercise British troops on alive firing village range to practise their Fighting In Built Up Areas (FIBUA) skills - a facility that is not available for safety reasons in the smaller training areas in the United Kingdom. Phase Two saw a coalition deployment of the JRDF and the US forces in a final test exercise. It convincingly showed that, despite recent troop reductions in the United Kingdom, the Joint Rapid Deployment Force has a vital role to play in NATO. 

The exercise, lasting ten days, saw the deployment of the Anglo-US Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) in a mission to restore stability to a national region. This was achieved by establishing a forward presence and conducting preliminary operations. The end result was a forcible entry into the exercise theatre, with follow-on operations to defeat the aggressor.
Once the initial foothold was established at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station 5 Airborne Brigade, under the operational command of 82nd Airborne Division, regrouped and established its base. 
checking Location
This Forward Operating Base (FOB) for the brigade would allow support helicopter,and Tactical Air Land Operations (TALO) to be conducted against the enemy. A divisional level amphibious landing by US 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (2nd MEF) and 3 Cdo Bde RM aimed to gain a foothold on the 
Camp Lejeune coast line was supported by two Battalions from the Parachute Regiment carrying out diversionary raids behind enemy lines. 1 Para was tasked to move by support helicopter under the cover of darkness, to take an abandoned airfield on the Fort Bragg training area and hold it until the arrival of  it's sister battalion, 2 Para. 
Para BriefingPara BriefingFor Night Jump
2 Para's part in the operation was to carry out an overhead Parachute assault, at night on to a strong enemy position. Their task, to attack the enemy and draw attention from the beach area. This was to be a slow fighting withdraw back inland, to a position where helicopters would lift the battalion into the secure area which 1 Para now held. From this location RAF Hercules would lift both battalions and move them back to Cherry Point.
Eleven RAF transport aircraft left Cherry Point in formation flying to, two drop zones behind enemy lines. As the aircraft circled Cherry Point awaiting the release code-word, 9 Chinook troop carrying Helicopters with 1 Para onboard left to secure it's target. 
Brit Para
British soldier on the drop zone 
after jumping from an American
C130 Hercules using the
US T10-C Parachute.
At approximately 0255 on the morning of Wednesday 8th July the first wave of 2 Para dropped onto the Lejeunr Drop Zone on the Fort Bragg training area.  Members of Support Company, with Battalion Main (Head Quarters) now had one hour to set up a fire base and be prepared to conducted the raid onto Camp Mcall which lay about three kilometre's away. The remainder of the battalion, the fighting companies where now ontheir way to carry out an overhead assault onto Mcall with support from the first wave.  Approximately one hour later the second wave, and the main body of the battalion dropped over Camp Mcall, and carried out an over head assault. 

The final phase of the exercise would see a brigade level assault deep behind enemy lines. A mass deployment at night of 7000 parachute troops onto multiple Drop Zones saw battalion sized raids and diversionary 
operations conducted to assist the amphibious forces, and a breakout from the beachhead. Luckily, injuries sustained on the night parachute insertion were significantly lower than forecast, with only one of the forty-three  British casualties requiring major surgery and rehabilitation This was the largest airborne assault since Exercise Deep Furrow in 1973, 
in which 16 Ind Para Bde, 82nd AB Div and the Turkish Parachute Force dropped into Turkey in support of elements of 3 Cdo Bde RM and the US Marine Corps (USMC). It was believed that the Turkish army later used its experience from this exercise to mount its invasion of Cyprus in 1974. In combination with Parachute operations, mass troop movements were practised by helicopter, and raid and attack operations were rehearsed before being used against the enemy. From Cherry Point the main effort switched from the amphibious theatre entry to a divisional level airborne assault to defeat the enemy, bringing the exercise to a conclusion.
British soldiers captured on
IR film, fitting equipment prior
to the mass drop onto Ft Bragg
training area during Purple Star.

Para in Plane
US Para
US soldier on the ground after
the drop.
Captured Flag
British Paras displaying a stolen flag from an enemy position.
Exercise Purple Star
has given 5 Airborne Brigade, and other UK forces, the perfect opportunity to test all aspects of the new Joint Rapid Deployment Force in a coalition deployment outside the United Kingdom. 
This was the first time that units making up the JRDF have exercised on such a large scale. Although minor difficulties occurred during the early stages of the exercise, the exercise helped to weld the units into an efficient fighting force and proved its operational readiness.
Para Wing Presentation
Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion the
Parachute Regiment (2 Para) issuing
British Para wing to soldiers from the
82 AB Div. after completing cross training
with RAF aircraft and equipment.
© Stephen McConnell  1996All Rights Reserved


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