SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- The air assault students craned their necks to see the top of the looming tower. In a few minutes they would rappel down the face of the 40-foot rappel tower for the first time. It was what they had been waiting for - the moment they could prove they were worthy to wear air assault wings.

The 10-day Air Assault School held at Camp Robertson is the first air assault course held in Europe since 2005. A Mobile Training Team from the Warrior Training Center in Fort Benning, Ga., provided the instructors for the course.

Over 209 students arrived at Camp Robertson to participate in the training, but the numbers quickly diminished as students fell prey to obstacles with names such as Tough One, The Dirty Name and Skyscraper.

By day seven and the start of phase three, which is where the students learn basic rappelling, there were 189 students left.

During the rappelling phase students learned how to tie the hip rappel seat or swiss seat, hook-up techniques, lock-in procedures, belay procedures, how to rappel with and without combat equipment, and fast rope familiarization.

"We start out teaching them hook up procedures and belay procedures and then they'll go through ground training, which is just the walking stage of rappelling. Then they'll move to the slant wall, which is a little more advanced, a little more steep," said Sgt. Adam Lamberson, one of the MTT air assault instructors. "We'll do the wall side today and then we'll go into the open side."

The open side consists of rappels without combat equipment, three brakes to the ground, a semi-combat lock-in and then a full combat load, where students wear all their modular lightweight load-carrying equipment and carry their rucksacks and rifles, said Lamberson.

For one of the students, the rappel phase was not something to be feared; instead she considered it a reward for making it that far in the course.

"I'm very excited because all of us have worked so hard to get this far. It takes a lot of mental and physical strength," said Staff Sgt. Margarita Flores, a paralegal with Headquarters Company, 18th Military Police Brigade.

The next obstacle for the students to overcome is the 12-mile road march, which must be completed in three hours in order for the students to graduate. The graduation is scheduled for May 7.

Another air assault course is already being planned for fiscal year 2011.

Page last updated Fri May 7th, 2010 at 03:15