BAMAKO, Mali - U.S. Army jumpmasters assigned to Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara conducted a Basic Airborne Refresher course May 7, 2010 for African paratroopers as part of the Flintlock 10 special operations exercise in an effort to improve capacity building of African forces for future airborne missions.
Airborne soldiers from Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso took part in the training aimed at adherence to standards and attention to detail for safe airborne operations.
The training focused on airborne tasks such as pre-jump (proper exit, check body position and count), demonstration of modified parachute landing falls (front right, front left, rear right and rear left), and mock door training (static line control).
Emphasizing the importance of safety, through the aid of interpreters, the jumpmasters trained the parachutists according to standards of the U.S. Airborne School.
According to U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Pair, JSOTF-TS jumpmaster, the paratroopers from the African armies brought a level of experience and expertise to the refresher training.
"Just like every other country we (U.S.) all have our own techniques when conducting airborne operations," Sergeant Pair said. "The African airborne soldiers have very similar techniques to ours which made it easier to train."
For American parachutists, the Basic Airborne Refresher (BAR) course is mandatory for all airborne Soldiers who have not made a jump within the last six months. One of the biggest surprises to the American jumpmasters was the number of jumps their African paratrooper counterparts had completed.
"I had a talk with my jumpmaster counterpart from Mali and was surprised they jump more than most of us," Pair said. "Most of the jumpers were very well trained and all were very receptive to what the instructors had to say."
The training began with the jumpmasters providing instruction on proper rigging procedures for the ALICE Pack. Under the watchful eyes of the jumpmasters, each jumper was checked for deficiencies and was given an explanation on the consequences of improper assembly.
Standing side-by-side with his Malian jumpmaster counterparts, Pair demonstrated the correct sequence for the jumpmaster personnel inspection and gave the signature 'slap on the thigh' to each jumper as a sign of approval.
At the conclusion of the BAR, Pair was impressed in the leadership, confidence and proficiency of his African paratrooper counterparts.
"I actually got the chance to train two of the Malian jumpmasters on our (U.S.) sequence, and they reciprocated with their sequence," he said. "The hardest part of the Basic Airborne Refresher course had to be the language barrier between all of our countries, but the training was executed without a flaw."
Exercise Flintlock 10, conducted by Special Operations Command Africa's JSOTF-TS, is a joint multinational exercise to improve information sharing at the operational and tactical levels across the Saharan region while fostering increased collaboration and coordination. It is focused on military interoperability and capacity-building for U.S. European Partner Nations and select units in Northern and Western Africa.