CPT Choli Ence
Royal Cambodian Armed
Forces Soldiers watch U.S. and Cambodian airborne
troops during the friendship jump at Angkor Sentinel
SPEU, Cambodia — For airborne Soldiers, getting the
chance to jump with airborne forces from other countries
is a highly coveted and sought-after event. Such was the
case for 49 Utah Army National Guard Soldiers of the
197th Special Troops Company (Airborne), 97th Troop
Command, and 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group.
These Soldiers participated in a
friendship jump with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces during
Angkor Sentinel 2010, the Global Peace Operation Initiative
capstone event, held here at the newly built Training School
for Multinational Peacekeeping Forces, July 12-30.
The Global Peace Operation
Initiative is a State Department-led initiative to address
gaps in international peacekeeping operations and normally
doesn’t include a friendship jump. According to Sgt. Maj.
Gary Barnes, operations noncommissioned officer for
Headquarters, 97th Troop Command, the idea to include a
friendship jump in the exercise was first conceptualized
during the initial planning conference in October 2009.
However, obtaining actual approval to include the friendship
jump in the exercise proved more difficult.
In fact, Barnes said the
approval for the jump came only after COL Edward
Gunderson, co-exercise support group director for Angkor
Sentinel and commander of the 97th, met with
defense and Army attaché, COL Mark Gillette, during the
CPT Choli Ence
Staff Sergeant Gregory
Haskell, 197th Special Troops Company, right,
gets some help from a
parachute rigger prior to the friendship jump.
rehearsal. Once approval for
the friendship jump was granted by the U.S. Embassy in
Phnom Penh, U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. Army Pacific,
the task of coordinating for the necessary equipment and
support personnel began.
The KC-130J aircraft used during
the friendship jump was supplied by the 1st Marine Aircraft
Wing out of Okinawa, Japan, and the jumpmaster, safeties,
parachute riggers and parachutes were all supplied by U.S.
Army’s 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, also based
in Okinawa. Prior to this jump, according to Barnes, the 1st
Marine Aircraft Wing and 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces,
had never worked together.
Despite these challenges, the
friendship jump was deemed a success as 66 U.S. and 30 Royal
Cambodian Armed Forces Soldiers carried out a perfectly
This friendship jump was only the
second time that the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces had ever
jumped with U.S. Servicemembers.
"It makes me feel very proud and
lucky to be here," said SPC Daniel Griffin, 1st Battalion,
19th Special Forces, upon learning about the significance of
At the conclusion of this
exercise, all U.S. Soldiers who participated in the
friendship jump were awarded Cambodian jump wings. Unlike
the U.S., the Cambodian jump wings are individually serial
numbered and assigned to each Soldier.