Army Holds Huge Exercise To Show Off Lethality

FORT IRWIN, Calif. – As the setting sun paints the Mojave Desert mountains a striking red, six Abrams tanks roll toward an enemy stronghold, their massive treads kicking up billows of dust.

Suddenly, red tracers whiz across the sky; then a tank’s cannon answers with a thunderous, heart-stopping blast. As the glow of the sunset dims, three Apache helicopters arrive, pouring rocket fire on enemy vehicles at the mountain’s base. Another truck appears, this one with rocket-propelled artillery. Then a flash of light and the whistling sound as the rockets obliterate their target.

On the other side of the mountain, Army special operations forces hide in the foothills, peering out at an enemy airstrip. Their objective: secure the runway so special forces can land. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles soaring above bomb a handful of enemy targets. Then CV-22 Ospreys fly in, dropping off Army Rangers. They clear the runway, and MC-130 cargo planes swoop with even more Rangers. Thus fortified, the ground force takes out the remaining enemy, allowing more than 500 82nd Airborne paratroopers to drop in from Air Force C-17s and C-130s.

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