TUNISIA -- Paratroopers from the 173d Airborne Brigade jumped into the Tunisian countryside Jan. 14 and joined other U.S. as well as Tunisian forces for exercise Atlas Drop 02.
During the two-week exercise, brigade soldiers conducted a joint U.S.-Tunisian jump exchange, live-fire exercises and squad, platoon and company level situational training.
One change from last year's Atlas Drop was the addition of the 173d Airborne Brigade Reconnaissance Company. The BRC's surveillance and hide teams positioned themselves in the hills near Cap Serrat and kept a constant lookout on the valley.
"The best thing is when someone comes near my position and doesn't see me," said Sgt. Christopher McGrath, team leader, BRC.
"That gets my heart beating," he said.
Before infantrymen from Co. C 1-508 Airborne Infantry Battalion could conduct their live-fire assault and breach and trench line, engineers from the assault and barrier platoon, 173d Combat Support Company moved tons of soil, improved the wooden structure of the trench and constructed a cement culvert to help drain the trench.
"Our job here is to improve the trench to make sure we get the most realistic and safe training as possible," said Spc. Cesareo Meza, construction equipment operator, Combat Support Company.
After the jump exchange, paratroopers from both countries faced each other in a formation and exchanged wings at a ceremony. Col. James C. Yarbrough, commander, 173d Airborne Brigade, spoke to the paratroopers about the airborne spirit overcoming differences of the two militaries.
"Paratroopers are braver, they have more guts and they can be counted on to get the job done," he said.
"This is the best Atlas Drop we've had and I hope next year is even better," he added.
Atlas Drop began in 1996 and is an annually scheduled exercise which demonstrates 173d Airborne Brigade's ability to deploy quickly and conduct joint and combined missions.