Not since WWII have so many combat ground forces landed on Guam in such a short period of time. In under 30 minutes, nearly 400 paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, jumped from C-17 Globemasters onto the runways of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, 29 June, 2020. Named Operation Spartan Flex, the operation was intended to exercise joint capabilities in the Indo-Pacific Command Region. The Guam National Guard was asked by the 4-25th to provide support capabilities such as medics, field litter ambulances and air medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), engineer teams in case of tree landings, cargo trucks with drive teams for parachute recovery, communications support, and more.
Capt. Leona Campbell, officer in charge of the guard’s support element, led the 53-person team through the support effort. “It was exciting to be part of something so large-scale, and with such a strategic impact. It was even more exciting to see our Soldiers do what they joined to do. The medics got to do their jobs, our communications people, engineers… everyone executed their functional area and got to show their expertise. Plus our leaders got to lead. It was amazing to see it all come together,” said Campbell.
“Thank you to my NCOIC (Noncommissioned Officer in Charge), Staff Sgt. Tara Lujan for being there every step of the way and making it happen. Thanks also to Lt. Col. David Santos and our TAG (The Adjutant General), Maj. Gen (GU) Esther Aguigui for believing in me and in our Soldiers to accomplish this mission. Mostly, thank you to our Soldiers. You worked alongside active duty Soldiers who get sets and reps every day, and you all performed at their level. I’m extremely proud of you all,” said Campbell.
More than 350 paratroopers left Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and flew directly to Guam to conduct the airborne operation. The operation demonstrates the Army’s ability to deliver combat capable paratroopers anywhere in the INDOPACOM area at a moment’s notice and do so in a safe manner during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paratroopers who would have to interact with the local population were tested, with negative results, prior to their arrival in Guam. Paratroopers conducting the airborne operation were screened and after the completion of their mission kept isolated to reduce any risk of infection.