GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- The Army National Guard Warrior Training Center coordinated with the 7th Army Training Command's Combined Arms Training Center to host Air Assault School for approximately 270 students from Sept. 8 to 19, 2021.
U.S. Soldiers assigned to various units across Europe got the unique opportunity to participate in the Air Assault School. The course took place over 10 days and is designed to challenge Soldiers and prepare them for real life combat situations.
There are three different phases to the course. Phase one tests the abilities of the Soldiers’ endurance, physical prowess and attention to detail with an obstacle course, a two-mile run and a packing list followed by a six-mile ruck march.
“Air Assault school strengthens the skills of the Soldiers by learning about discipline and becoming very detail oriented,” Capt. Nadim Antar, commander of Bravo Company, National Guard Warrior Training Center said.
“From phase one, if they don’t have the specific packing list, they could potentially be dropped from the course.”
Phase two is all classroom instruction where they learn sling load operations. Sling loading involves attaching cargo beneath a helicopter for the purposes of transportation. By the end of this phase students are tested on their ability to hook up a load and inspect it with speed and accuracy prior to it being mobilized for air transport.
“The most challenging part of Air Assault School is the going from the physical to the mental to the physical again,” Spc. Brian Dedeaux, an Air Assault student assigned to 4th Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment said. “For the mental aspect, it’s about putting in long days and nights of studying. For the physical it’s about not quitting even during the smoke sessions.”
Phase three is the final phase when the Soldiers learn how to tie a hip rappel seat in order to rappel off a 60 foot tower. Practice starts on the rappel tower, where Soldiers start with a wall side rappel and then an open side rappel. After proficiency is gained from practicing on the tower, the next day involves UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters.
“We utilized two helicopters for the class so our students could get real world experience rappelling from an altitude of 90 feet,” Sgt. William Hall Pettey III, Instructor for Bravo Company, National Guard Warrior Training Center said. “This is the culmination of every event we’ve done so far. This is the epitome of ‘train as you fight’ where you actually get to repel out of an aircraft.”
The 1-214th General Support Aviation Battalion from the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade supported the instructors by providing them with Black Hawk pilots and aircrews in order to facilitate the training.
Pettey said it was great work with the aircrews and that he was proud to see his students work hard, adapt and overcome challenges.
“I’m really grateful to be here because I won my brigade’s Best Warrior Competition and as a reward my sergeant major offered me the slot,” Spc. Jarrett Fastert, an Air Assault student assigned to 66th Military Intelligence Brigade said. “If you’re planning on coming to Air Assault school make sure you pay attention to detail and get yourself squared away.”
Safety is of the utmost importance at Air Assault school. Instructors’ strictness and persistence on attention to detail is to ensure Soldiers make it through the course without injury. Over 150 Soldiers were able to graduate this cycle, earning the coveted Air Assault badge.