KOVACHEVO, Croatia — Service members from four participating nations in Jackal Stone 09, a multinational military special operations training exercise, improved international military partnerships through a combined/joint training event near Kovachevo, Sept. 18.
Special operations soldiers from Croatia, Poland, Hungary and the United States conducted fast rope insertion/extraction system training, or FRIES, from a U.S. Army MH-47 Chinook helicopter assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) "Night Stalkers" based in Fort Campbell, Ky.
The purpose of Jackal Stone 09, co-organized by the Special Operations Battalion of General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces and U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, is to enhance capabilities and interoperability amongst the participating special operations forces and as well as build mutual respect while sharing doctrinal concepts.
The FRIES technique is an optimal way to insert a large number of troops into an area quickly when landing is not preferred or possible, according to one of the MH-47 pilots participating in the training.
Inserting soldiers into uneven terrain, hazardous terrain or on to the top of structures are examples of when FRIES would be used during real-world operations. "Due to ongoing contingency operations all over the world, joint and combined operations are a reality and the FRIES training further enhanced SOF capabilities as the participating forces brought their combined experiences and expertise to improve interoperability and standardize procedures," said the MH-47 pilot.
According to one Croatian special operations soldier the training was worthwhile. "It [the FRIES training] was our first time working with this type of aircraft," he said. "This familiarization and experience of working with other nations, especially here in my homeland of Croatia, has been great. Today's training will definitely pay dividends down the road," the operator said.
The event proved not only beneficial to the ground forces, but also to the "Night Stalker" crew.
"The diversity of the Croatian terrain creates a perfect place for us to train and perfect our tactics, techniques and procedures," said a U.S. Air Force pararescueman from Royal Air Force Milldenhall, England.
"All of the partner nation troops have been 100-percent professional and this training environment closely mirrors what we'll see downrange," he said.
Jackal Stone 09 participants include: Albania, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States.