Posted September 15, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT
KAZAKHSTAN — It's history in the making.
For the first time ever, the 82nd Airborne Division jumped into the former Soviet Union on Monday. About 500 Fort Bragg paratroopers are taking part in Centrazbat -- a NATO exercise that's bringing together troops from seven countries.
For many of these paratroopers, it's the longest non-stop flight they've ever made. It's also the first time they've ever jumped with Russian troops. For SSG Shane Brown of the 3rd Special Forces Group, this would not have been possible ten years ago.
Soldiers from seven nations, including the United States, Turkey, and Russia, are gathered in the barren fields of Kazakhstan to participate in the NATO exercise. The 82nd Airborne's Sergeant Harley Heuring says that he's been overseas before, and the troops on the other side of the world are really no different from stateside soldiers.
After the 82nd Airborne troops jumped, Turkish and Russian soldiers had their turn. Although the parachuting is important to the participants, the training these soldiers do on the ground could be the key to stabilizing this former Soviet nation.