U.S. Army Alaska Soldiers were among the more than 120 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers who graduated from Air Assault class Aug. 24 at Camp Carroll on Fort Richardson.
Hosted by the Alaska Army National Guard's 207th Infantry Brigade, the 10-day course was taught by instructors from the National Guard Warrior Training Center, Fort Benning, Ga.
"This is the first time this course has come to train Alaska Soldiers," said Master Sgt. Bradford Quigley, operations sergeant for the 207th. "The benefits gained by bringing an Air Assault course to Alaska give a new capability to the organization."
The Air Assault course is broken into three phases: Air Assault Operations, Sling-load Operations and Rappelling Operations. During the course, Soldiers are put through 10 to 12 hours of strenuous physical and mental training each day.
"This is an opportunity for Soldiers that they wouldn't normally have," Quigley said. "It's 'hooah,' challenging training; they should be proud of completing the course."
In phase one, Soldiers are introduced to Air Assault operations, while phase two teaches them more about their duties and responsibilities, and how to rig equipment and properly sling it beneath a hovering helicopter for transport.
The final phase prepares Soldiers for rappelling more than 90 feet from a helicopter.
"It's been a great experience for my instructors to come to Alaska and train, and also for the troops to learn a new skill," said Sgt. 1st Class Brian McCarthy, a trainer from the Warrior Training Center team. "Soldiers learn discipline through attention to detail, which is a very important aspect of Air Assault, or any military training. In the end, it's something that can save lives."
Alaska's unique location and the makeup of the class also benefited the trainers.
"We do this nine or 10 times a year, and this is probably the best place we've been," said Cpl. Joshua Cavalier. "Not only is the weather and terrain beautiful, it's great for training.
"This group of Soldiers is different from what we usually train," Cavalier said. "Normally we have a course full of cadets and senior non-commissioned officers.
"With this group, we're training more junior NCOs and junior enlisted," he said. "Many of them haven't had much experience with aircraft, so this was a good experience for them; they learned a lot."