On the night of October 2 to 3, 2019, paratroopers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team jumped from three C-130 Hercules aircraft as part of an exercise taking place in Mississippi. At least 23 paratroopers out of 87 were injured as they landed in a forest, away from the intended zone.
4,000 troops from Alaska are mobilized to participate in a large-scale, no-notice exercise called Operation Arctic Anvil. Due to take place in Camp Shelby, it aims at testing the capabilities according to local media Sun Herald.
Paratroopers of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, part of the 25th Infantry Division of the US Army, boarded three C-130 Hercules aircraft “with minimal notice” to recreate the conditions of “an Emergency Deployment”. They were part of 650 soldiers involved in a 10-day exercise that marks the beginning of Operation Arctic Anvil.
But as they jumped, the paratroopers of one of the aircraft landed about 400 meters (about 1,300 feet) away from their intended zone and directly over a densely forested area. Some of them were left hanging on high trees and required the intervention of firefighters to recover them. Others were injured when they arrived too fast on the ground.
All injured were taken care of by medical teams, and four were admitted to the nearest hospital. One of them was successfully operated for a broken back. No life-threatening injuries were reported.
While Colonel Boby Ginn, commander of Camp Shelby, initially claimed that the wind undoubtedly blew away the paratroopers from their landing zone, Colonel Christopher Landers, the chief of the 4th Brigade, did not rule out a human mistake. While injuries during jumps are quite common, “to have this number is relatively rare,” said Landers in a press conference, adding “I’ve only seen it a handful of times in my career”.
“Airborne Operations all bear an inherent risk. We strive to mitigate this risk as much as possible”, said the 4th Brigade Combat Team on its Facebook page. “Our goal is ultimately to continue training. Despite the challenges that we currently face, Soldiers always place the mission first”.