A paratrooper from Blackpool is among thousands of soldiers from around the world taking part in Europe’s biggest airborne exercise since the end of the Cold War.
Private Alex Bailey, of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, is training alongside Italian soldiers on the US Army-led Exercise Swift Response operation in southern Germany.
We can all learn from the different ways we do the same job
Some 4,800 soldiers from 11 NATO countries are training together to improve their ability to operate together in response to international crises.
Pte Bailey has been working alongside Italian paratroopers from the 183° Reggimento Paracadutisti Nembo as part of a larger force built around the US Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
The British and Italian troops parachuted in to the Hohenfels Training Area from two RAF C-130J Hercules as part of a mass drop of 1,300 paratroopers from 13 aircraft.
As part of the training exercise, they captured an airfield to carry out a non-combatant evacuation operation and then launched offensive operations against insurgents.
The 20-year-old said: “This is my first overseas exercise and it’s been a really interesting experience.
“It’s been good to work with a different army and we can all learn from the slightly different ways that we do the same job.
“We’ve got on really with the Italians, and the other nationalities on the exercise, because we’re all paratroopers and understand each other, even if we’re speaking a different language.”
Pte Bailey who went to Fleetwood High School, has been in the Army for a year. He is a member of 2 PARA’s Anti-Tanks Platoon, trained to operate the potent and precise Javelin anti-tank missile.
Colchester-based 2 PARA’s core role is to alternate with 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment as the lead unit in the Air Assault Task Force (AATF), which is ready to deploy anywhere in the world to conduct the full range of military operations. 2 PARA took on the AATF role from the start of March, with the unit’s airborne infantry bolstered by artillery, engineers, signallers, medics and logisticians from 16 Air Assault Brigade.