By Alexandra Hemmerly-BrownMarch 3, 2011
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Army News Service, March 3, 2011) -- One hundred paratroopers, including 26 U.S. Army Pathfinder School students, participated in a night mass tactical airborne jump Wednesday at Fort Benning, Ga.
The exercise, not traditionally part of the Pathfinder School's curriculum, was incorporated into the student's final field training exercise the day before their graduation. With the exception of special operations units, night mass tactical jumps are uncommon at Fort Benning, explained Master Sgt. Mark Dasch, the Pathfinder Course branch chief here.
"For Fort Benning, it is very rare to put aircraft in a formation to jump," Dasch said.
Carrying a combat equipment load, their assigned weapon, and a T-10D parachute, Pathfinder students, along with members of E. Company, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and the Warrior Training Center, exited two C-130 Hercules aircraft at about 1,000 feet.
The night mass tactical operation is higher risk, but also more accurate, as the Soldiers are being dropped at a lower and more concise area, Dasch explained. In about 25 seconds nearly all 100 paratroopers were in the air and quickly on the ground, compared to a normal daytime operation when 100 jumpers are dropped in about 25 minutes.
This exercise was made possible because of a unilateral training mission between Fort Benning and Dobbins Air Force Base.
Since August 2010, the U.S. Army Pathfinder School has been changing its curriculum, incorporating lessons learned, namely from the war in Afghanistan. Dasch said more lesson-plan changes are expected in the future, including an online portion.