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Dropping in: AFP and U.S. Marines conduct parachute ops

21 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Joseph A. Cabrera

Aboard a flying KC-130, airmen from the Philippine Air Force’s 710th Special Operations Wing, also known as the Sky Warriors, and U.S. Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Deep Reconnaissance Platoon, conducted parachute operations Oct. 18, during this year's bilateral training exercises Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercise.

For both sides, the main goal of the training was to improve proficiency and efficiency in conducting parachute operations, a skill which expands on the capabilities of both units. Additionally, the training gave both PAF and U.S. service members the opportunity to share techniques, share experiences and foster relationships.

“Any kind of real-world operation we would do with the Philippine armed forces, would be bilateral, so it’s good to make friends,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. David Cole, the DRP platoon sergeant.

Parachute operations provide units with additional methods of insertion into an area, enhancing combat readiness and efficiency.

“It is a tactical means of insertion, it increases our capabilities and it makes us more versatile,” Cole said. “It pretty much allows us to get in anywhere.”

For the Sky Warriors, the jump also sufficed quarterly proficiency training requirements in maintaining efficiency in parachute operations, said Capt. Erwin Hernaez, director of operations, Group 720 Special Operations Group, PAF.

Aside from the Sky Warriors receiving extra practice, they were given the opportunity to see equipment used by the DRP and learn more about their new parachute system.

“This training gave us insight on possibly procuring some equipment like the Marines’ new chute system,” Hernaez said.

According to Hernaez, the Armed Forces of the Philippines use an older “round” parachute system, whereas U.S. forces use a newer rectangular shaped multi-mission parachute system.

This newer system is more maneuverable than the round parachute system giving them mission critical capabilities which the round chute system could not, said Sgt. Caleb Nehls, an assistant team leader with the DRP.

Aside from receiving crucial training and experience, both sides gained a better understanding of how their counterparts operate and they enjoyed the opportunity to train together.

“It’s awesome to be able to integrate with people from different countries and learn how they do things, and they learn from us,” Nehls said.

Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercise are designed to improve interoperability, increase readiness and continue professional relationships between the U.S. and Philippine armed forces.

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit