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Nearly 50 US paratroopers hurt in Bavarian training exercise

The Local · 7 Oct 2011, 12:18

Published: 07 Oct 2011 12:18 GMT+02:00

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Of the 47 who were hurt, 16 were still in hospital on Friday, two of whom are in intensive care, a US military spokeswoman told The Local.

Nearly 1,000 American soldiers jumped from planes at the Hohenfels Training Area near Regensburg, Bavaria in a joint exercise with Polish forces – none of whom were hurt.

The idea was to simulate jumps into places like Afghanistan, said Denver Makle, a civilian spokeswoman for the Joint Multinational Training Command, which is under US Army command.

She said a major investigation into why so many soldiers were hurt was unlikely since the number of injuries was within expected margins.

“Airborne operations are always dangerous,” she said, explaining that a serious injury rate of up to 3 percent after such jumps was considered normal. “There’s very little margin for error.”

She said officials would be analysing whether everyone responded correctly after it became clear that soldiers were hurt.

The units involved will continue their training, which is one part of a multi-week exercise involving thousands of soldiers from at least 10 countries. It is said to be the largest training of its kind in Europe in decades.

Moises Mendoza


Story continues below…


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:04 October 7, 2011 by jbaker
If they want to simulate jumps in Afghanistan, then there are plenty of desolate places in Afghanistan they can use and not get hurt. Practicing with soldiers from ten different countries in Germany makes me wonder what they are really practicing for! WWIII?

Are the forests and towns of germany really a good template for Afghanistan?
17:52 October 7, 2011 by GeoGeek
@jbaker - I'm a bit confused by your comments. First, of all, I though brilliant intellectual elites, such as yourself, wanted foreign troops out of Afghanistan. Now, you want them over there? Secondly, no locals were hurt in the exercise, so what is your problem? I'm sure they were jumping directly into the towns and villages ;-)

You are most likely correct in your observation that they are practicing for WWIII. Or would you prefer to cower down into a fetal position?
18:06 October 7, 2011 by Drewsky
I think areas in California, Nevada or Arizona would work a lot better. I don't support the mid-east wars, but if they're going to station people over here they should be trained-up in the States for this sort of stuff.
18:09 October 7, 2011 by Englishted
Given that 1000 jumped and only 47 we hurt that to me is a good percentage and they should be congratulated on a successful first part of the exercise.

Sooner or later we will need trained and ready armed forces ,don't lets let our guard down until we can see into the future.
18:19 October 7, 2011 by McNair Kaserne
I'm sure the owner's of the local Gasthauses disagree with you, they of course have no need for the extra money these guys spend while they are in town. The local men probably agree though.
19:52 October 7, 2011 by rfwilson

"don't lets let our guard down until we can see into the future."

Good luck with that. Once you are successful to "see into the future", you're gonna be a rich man!
20:04 October 7, 2011 by GeoGeek

"Once you are successful to "see into the future", you're gonna be a rich man! "

Hence, the reason for his comment in the first place.

BTW, the reason for the slight uptick in injuries is because the wind had shifted during the morning jump and many of the soon-to-be injured ended up in the trees bordering the drop zone. One soldier tore ligaments in his ankle stepping into a hole in the field.
20:12 October 7, 2011 by Staticjumper
While Airborne ops are inherently dangerous (thus the obsessive focus on training and safety) 16 hospitalizations does seem a little high. If I remember right, Hohenfels is heavily forested. Many drop zones are cut out of the forest so you have trees on either side of the DZ. All it takes is for a pilot to be slightly off course or the ground controller to underestimate winds across the DZ for a stick of paratroopers to drift into a tree line where they get cut-up descending through the branches. I suspect that most of the non-hospitalization injuries were branch cuts or twisted ankles or knees. As for why jump in Germany, this jump was apparently part of a larger partnership exercise, most likely with Eastern European allies. Hohenfels and Grafenwohr have been a prime maneuver areas for the US for decades, so why transport everyone overseas?
20:28 October 7, 2011 by GermanyBert
You can really tell which comments are coming from people who have no clue about military exercises. Gasthauses.....LOL
20:37 October 7, 2011 by raandy
I find it strange that it was all Americans ,, I would like to see the drop zone.
20:40 October 7, 2011 by Aburgboy
I wonder if it had anything to do with rigging the chutes.
20:57 October 7, 2011 by wood artist
Oddly, the article doesn't identify the nature of the injuries, so we're left to guess. Since chute failure is usually fatal, I'm assuming these are landing issues, and if the area is forested, that would explain things. As for the injuries being only to Americans, it makes sense if the others were in planes that correctly judged the winds, etc.

Trees are not fun for landing. Been there, spent some time hanging. Tree limbs are very unforgiving.

22:35 October 7, 2011 by dairiesman
Given that 1000 jumped and only 47 we hurt that to me is a good percentage and they should be congratulated on a successful first part of the exercise.

Are you being serious? One person injured in a training exercise is one too many and as for Americans training in Germany!!! You may have guessed that I'm not military nor American! Go jump in Texas!

By the way I love Amerca - the country and the people - but why do you guys really need to be in Germany? What do you do here every day? And please don't tell me that Germany is closer to Afghanistan.
22:43 October 7, 2011 by aceroni
If there will be a WWIII it will be fought in the places where the resources are, oil and raw materials, not here in Europe where there are only debt holders and pensioners
23:01 October 7, 2011 by hOU
I read this article and got nothing from it. Not one useful fact : how? For example, how were they injured? Damn it. Why do you have to aim so $%&/ing low? Are you bored? Underpaid? Under-educated? Illiterate?

Ah right! You don't give a ph@k! Well why didn't you say so?
23:11 October 7, 2011 by Staticjumper
@dairiesman, stepping out of an airplane at this flying at 140 knots (260Kmh) at 400 meters is extremely dangerous even if done right so injuries are going to happen. You're right that one injury is too many, but that will not stop training. As for jumping in Texas, we do. In fact the US military jumps at several locations in the US but in this case, the US was participating in a joint multinational exercise which include European allies. As for the US leaving Germany, we are, sadly, already on our way out. I served 15 years in Germany and virtually every base I served on has closed. In response to your affection for the US, believe me, its mutual. I have not met a single US soldier that didn't enjoy their time in Germany. Ich, personlich, habe sogar was Deutch gelernt.

Here is a little more detail on the jump.

23:40 October 7, 2011 by delvek
@ Staticjumper, the US is further away from pulling out of Germany then when you were here. Most of the closures are consolidations due to the different global dynamic. There still is an incredible amount of money being pumped into and planned for US bases in Germany.
00:56 October 8, 2011 by svaens

"You are most likely correct in your observation that they are practicing for WWIII. Or would you prefer to cower down into a fetal position?"

I would prefer the US didn't start WWIII, and concentrate on fixing problems in their own country, rather than creating problems in others.
02:34 October 8, 2011 by wenddiver
US and Polish Soldiers jumping to defend German democracy, how could any sane person think that is a bad thing considering the history of Europe. I don't know what your history books say, but the US took some pretty extreme measurers to stay out of two World Wars. Last I read the Wars started in Europe and sucked th rest of the World into the fire, so of course this happening twice the rest of the world sees this as more than a European problem. Be glad the Americans and Poles are willing to help, it's in everybodys interest.
02:41 October 8, 2011 by Staticjumper
@delvek. Wow! I'm impressed by your knowledge of how things have changed since I was there. Especially since I didn't say when I was there. You wouldn't have just a little bit of an agenda, now would you? ;-) But I'm sure you have a good source backing up your claim that we are further away from downsizing now and that you wouldn't mind sharing that source.

BTW I first served in Germany in 1981 and last served in 2008.
03:32 October 8, 2011 by GeoGeek

"I would prefer the US didn't start WWIII, and concentrate on fixing problems in their own country, rather than creating problems in others."

I didn't say anything about starting WWIII, it has more to do with preventing WWIII.

As stated above by Wenddiver, the US has done everything possible to stay out of World Wars. If you stay strong, you are less likely to be attacked. If you are weak, it sucks to be you.
07:33 October 8, 2011 by Englishted

You must read different books to me ,as I read Japan invaded China and was fighting Russia before Adolf got going.

Would the U.S.A. have joined in without the Japanese attack I don't know .

However I and most of Europe are very glad they did and know we will always be in your debt.


I could see enough into the future to know somebody would not understand what I wrote.
09:07 October 8, 2011 by nolibs
American paratroopers are simply more mobile cannon fodder (infantry) and considered expendable. They can't even see real medical doctors because they might actually get treated for their injuries. Rather, they are sent to clinic "specialists" that give them a couple of Motrin pills and send them on their way.
09:19 October 8, 2011 by wenddiver
@Englishted- Japans border fighting with Stalin's Soviet Union drew little US response, in fact there was quite a bit of debate as to who the bad guy was in that one, I doubt if there was ever any chance of US intervention on that one. The Chinese Nationalists were originally anti-US and pro the dictatorships, but Chiang Kia-Sheks US educated wife worked wonders in getting US material and even a group of volunteer Fighter pilots out of the US, but no commitment of US Army troops.

The US entered the war in Europe through Lend lease, the US Eagle Squadrons (American voluteers in the RAF), and agreements to escort the convoys to the middle of the Atlantic, clearly US Airmen and Sailors were already in a shooting war, but still that didn't bring the full industrial might of the US against the Nazis or the wanted declaration of war, even the bombing of Pearl Harbor only resulted in a US Declaration of War against the Empire of Japan. The act that brought the US Air Power and Army to Europe was Adolf Hitler deciding after Pearl Harbor to declare war on the US, in what was surely the stupidest move militarily in history. The US forces in Germany are there to remind a certain large Bear like nation that an attack on the recent German Democracy will result in US Army deaths and instant declaration of war and commitment of US ground Forces. This with the Brits and Canadians making the same commitment has insured peace for 66 years in Europe.
09:25 October 8, 2011 by delvek
@ staticjumper, wow, I assumed you were here in the 80's but 2008, if you were here in 2008, regardless of your capacity, you would know what I am talking about.

I am certain based on my capacity here that you will be long gone and buried before the US "pulls out" of Germany.

I have no agenda you mention, I will be in Germany regardless of whether the US is present or not, I fear you my friend are a bit jaded since your not here. Something which you shouldnt lash out at others about.
17:46 October 8, 2011 by Englishted

Good points ,strange thing that Hitler only once kept a pact and that one with Japan made him declare war on the U.S. when he was already on the road to defeat.
19:43 October 8, 2011 by Staticjumper
@delvek - According to my sources: http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil (Click on "Personnel" then "Publications" then "Worldwide Manpower Distribution" and finally "Historical") when I first arrived in Germany in 1981 there were 248,466 US military in Germany. I was stationed at:

Rhein-Main AFB (Frankfurt) - Operations reduced and moved toRamstein AFB, Community Closed

Fischbach Army Depot (Fischbach bei Dahn) - Unit deactivated, Community Closed

Husterhoh Kaserne (Pimasens) - Unit deactivated, Community Closed

Grunstadt Site (Grunstadt) - Unit deactivated, Closed

Katterbach Army Airfield (Katterbach) - Still in Operation

Darby Kaserne (Nurnberg) - Unit deactivated, Community Closed

Sheridan Kaserne (Augsburg) - Unit moved to Darmstadt, Community Closed

Kelley Barracks (Darmstadt) - Unit moving to Wiesbaden, Community Closing

Taylor Barracks (Mannheim) - Unit moving to Wiesbaden, Community Closing

According to http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/MILITARY/history/hst1012.pdf, as of 2010 there were 54,431 personnel in Germany meaning that in less than 30 years we have reduced our presence in Germany by 78%. I stand by my original statement that we have been, and still are, on our way out of Germany.
09:13 October 9, 2011 by Englishted

"I find it strange that it was all Americans ,, I would like to see the drop zone. "

Join up then you can have a birds eye view.
15:12 October 9, 2011 by c12dat

Concur ... The US military will be in Germany for a while longer. Personally I do not think the US will completely pull all of its forces back from overseas.
15:12 October 11, 2011 by delvek
@ Staticjumper, I have been away from the computer so my response is delayed but I dont argue what you post. First of all their has been a massive strategic shift in geographic planning within Germany based on the change from a Cold War threat to a Terrorist threat. So many bases were and continue to close to have them consolidated to create hubs.

Its true in fact that the military personnel population has changed drastically, to begin with again, the fight has shifted from Cold War to Terrorism but more importantly its because through the 90's most of that decrease plus plus plus has been shifted to contactor positions.

I wont post specific numbers as I dont believe this is the place but I will only summarize by saying your numbers are correct but your missing the BIG picture.

The US will be in Germany at its current level or greater long after you and I are both dead and buried.
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