Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), conducted hot and cold load training exercises during Operation Lethal Eagle Nov. 3, 2021, Fort Campbell, Ky.
The training reinforced and introduced some Soldiers to air assault operations at the company level. It also gives company leaders the ability to see their Soldiers in a training environment and critique future trainings accordingly. Each Soldier received hands-on training from the instructors at The Sabalauski Air Assault School (TSAAS).
The 101st Airborne Division is the premier air assault division in the Army and Soldiers are encouraged to attend TSAAS, the Toughest Ten Days in the Army.
“For me, the most important thing that we are doing out here is preparing those who are new to the unit or have not been to TSAAS the opportunity to get familiar with the birds and learning the basics of air assault operations,” said Spc. Jacob Groh, a 68W assigned to Charlie Company, 1-327, and a native of Miami, Fl.
This exercise is a way to build camaraderie within units. The training from TSAAS instructors does not change, so it serves as a refresher for some and an introduction for others, not just for Air Assault, but for Pathfinder also, which builds on the skills learned during Air Assault School and is also available at TSAAS.
“For me,” said Groh, “being a medic who is Air Assault and Pathfinder qualified, there may be situations that come with casualties where I may have to communicate with a helicopter to coordinate a patient transfer in a landing zone that may not be the most optimal.”
Upon completing training at TSAAS, Soldiers will have the opportunity to put those skills to use on any number of real-world situations or training exercises just like this one.
The ongoing 19-day exercise tests both those experienced and inexperienced in air assault operations and creates an opportunity for everyone to bond and build unit cohesion. The skills that instructors focused on today were pick-up zone posture, cold and hot loading, marking a hot landing zone and controlling a hot landing zone.
As a medic, Groh’s role within the unit is to ensure the health and readiness of each member by making sure their health needs are met to keep them in the fight and complete the mission. Making sure soldiers are taken care of ensures they train properly to prevent lingering injuries that stall unit readiness and lethality.
“Leading up to this exercise, there has been constant communication with the medical and training staffs to create the safest possible training environment for everyone, and we are prepared for any possible scenario,” said Groh.
In addition to medical personnel keeping a safe training environment, the TSAAS instructors are determined to increase the lethality and readiness of the Screaming Eagles.
“This exercise is important,” said Sgt. Brandon Quintanilla, TSAAS Instructor and a native of Guam, “because it gives former and future students of TSAAS the opportunity of a refresher on the tactics and skills required to do Air Assault and Pathfinder operations”
The more exercises related to Air assault and Pathfinder operations take place, the more efficient and lethal the division becomes and the more it retains those skills.
“The skills learned during Air Assault and Pathfinder are perishable skills, and using these skills on a division-scale like this allows Soldiers the opportunity to see what these skills look like in the real world,” said Quintanilla.
Having experience with Air Assault operations can be an advantage for new students to TSAAS, but it could also be a hindrance for some.
“The advice I would have for Soldiers coming into Air Assault School is to be humble,” said Quintanilla. “Soldiers may come in having prior experience with Air Assault operations, but they have not formally gone through the course and need to take the training seriously. It’s not just another badge to wear because you need to be proficient at this training to be successful in the field of air assault operations.”