The 173rd Airborne Brigade alongside their host-nation allies from the Italian army’s Folgore Airborne Brigade and the 2nd Bridge Engineer Regiment, conducted a combined bridgehead seizure and river crossing as part of Exercise Iguana, here Oct. 2, 2015.
The exercise incorporated the use of an Italian army powered floating bridge in order to allow further military equipment to cross the Po River.
“This exercise has been a great opportunity to expand insertion techniques of the scout platoon,” said U.S. Army Spc. Brian Potter, assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne. “The training allowed us an opportunity to expand our knowledge and work more with our Italian hosts.”
Prior to the execution, the combined paratroopers planned and rehearsed extensively with their counterparts. Each brigade conducted multiple squad-size landings on various sites along the Po River.
“The planning process of Exercise Iguana has been an excellent way to exchange tactics, decision making processes and courses of actions for the mission,” said U.S. Army Capt. Michael Agbay, commander, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion. “The Italian army is very similar when it comes planning, and I think we both learned a great deal from each other by jointly developing this mission.”
The second week focused on tactical execution. The mission began with the establishment of a company patrol base. Italian reconnaissance teams established observation post across the landing in preparation for the assault.
During this phase in the exercise, the combined element conducted an assault on a key terrain foothold on the river which allowed for the establishment of the floating bridge system.
“I have worked with the 173rd Airborne Brigade previously this year during an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise,” said Italian Capt. Marco Falchi, an engineer with the 8th Engineer Regiment. “Just like the EDRE, this exercise is a great way to build interoperability with our U.S. allies.”
Once the assault force has seized the embankment, the bridge company established the floating bridge system allowing follow-on forces to conduct further operations in the Piacenza area.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe and is capable of deploying ready forces to conduct the full range of military operations across the U.S. European, Africa and Central Commands’ areas of operations within 18 hours.