KEY WEST, FL – An elite unit of North Carolina National Guard Soldiers conducted airborne and maritime operations training at the southern tip of Key West, Fla., Dec. 6-7, 2013.
Conducting a water jump isn’t an operation the units execute often, but it is a skill set they must practice and rehearse, said Army Lt. Col. John Pelleriti, who commands the company’s higher headquarters, 3rd Battalion, 20th SFG (A). Operations of this manner do give Special Forces units a great opportunity to maintain our currency.
Maintaining currency is a critical piece of being a Special Forces soldier.
Soldiers had to go outside of their comfort zones after the water jumps were completed. Each Operational Detachment-Alpha, or 12-man team, mounted on a low-profile inflatable boat, or Zodiac, after changing out of their saturated body-hugging uniforms, performing maintenance on water-soaked parachutes and downing combat-camouflaged floatation devices. These teams paddled their ways into the inlet waterway, while being tossed back and forth by the ocean’s waves. After finding a location away from the other ODAs, the team members plummeted into the ocean and capsized the Zodiac. Using two or three-man teams, each ODA practiced flipping the crafts back over after they were capsized.
“This training enables us, B Company, to maintain our currency, said Army Maj. Rick Trimble, B Company’s commander.
This currency, which is the soldier’s readiness to execute successful operations, was achieved by the successful airborne operation, maritime operation, interoperability with the support company and other elements of their battalion, and interoperability and operations with the North Carolina Air National Guard.
“The assistance by the N.C. Air Guard was incredibly important,” Trimble said. “The cooperation and support from the 145th Air Wing was simply fantastic by their willingness to travel to Fort Pickett, Va., to pick us up, and our ability to talk back and forth with them.”
The Green Berets participating in the weekend’s airborne and maritime training belong to one of the N.C. Guard’s two Special Forces companies. Trimble’s company has been a part of the NCNG for several years, and in 2012, B Company, 1st Battalion, 20th SFG (A), became the state’s second Special Forces headquarters was established in Albemarle, N.C. As with all active-duty and National Guard Special Forces units across the country, these companies’ soldiers take pride in maintaining their regiment’s strict requirements for physical fitness and tactical skills.