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
EXERCISE PURPLE STAR
aka. ROYAL DRAGON
THE LARGEST ANGLO-US PARACHUTE DROP IN 23
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.
Before Steve starts talking , he wants to
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.
Exercise Purple Star 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
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.
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.
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
||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.
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.
Additional cross-training consisted of equipment
familiarisation, range development work and Support Helicopter (SH) training.
Helicopters played a major part in the exercise
allowing troops and equipment to be
||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.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
Para 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.
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
|British soldiers captured on
IR film, fitting equipment prior
to the mass drop onto Ft Bragg
training area during Purple Star.
US soldier on the ground after
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
Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion
Parachute Regiment (2 Para) issuing
British Para wing to soldiers
82 AB Div. after completing cross training
with RAF aircraft and equipment.