By U.S. Army Sgt. Jessica M. KuhnSeptember 21, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C.-- When paratroopers descend from the air, they look down at the giant open drop zone below trying to avoid any objects that might be in their way. However, some areas of the world are covered in rocks, trees and mountains absent of any open fields for miles.
It's when the Army jumps into those not so ideal locations that the paratroopers of the 57th Sapper Company, 27th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Airborne) are more than ready to answer the call.
"We are the multi-tool of the Army," said Sgt. Gregory Hill, a paratrooper with the 57th Sapper Co., 27th Eng. Bn.
The combat engineers participated in Rough Terrain Airborne Operations training at the Advanced Airborne School Sept. 12-16.
"The training is so that the Soldiers can jump into any austere environment for instance trees, mountains or buildings it doesn't really matter," said Staff Sgt. Arlyn Geranen, an instructor for the training. "Soldiers can get stuck in a tree, and the training will show them how to rappel out safely and without getting injured."
Throughout the week long course, Soldiers learn the proper techniques to jump into any terrain including the tall pine trees of the Fort Bragg training grounds.
One reason the paratroopers are able to safely perform the Rough Terrain Airborne Operations is because of the unique suit they use while jumping, Hill, a native of Bend, Ore., said.
"We wear a Montana style smoke jumper suit like they use during wildfires," he added. "The suit is designed with special padding, a belt and a motorcycle style helmet with face cover helping protect us."
Geranen, a native of Lake Norden, S.D., considers wildfires as one example of when the rough terrain airborne operations can be utilized by the Army.
"Say for instance there is a wildfire going on, we can jump in without a landing zone for the firefighters to bring them any equipment or supplies they may need," Geranen said.
Besides wildfires, Hill believes Rough Terrain Airborne Operations also can be used to help during firefights.
"If there is a unit on the ground that is heavily being taken over, we can jump in anywhere and provide a blocking position or support to them," Hill explained.
Because of its unique mission, Rough Terrain Airborne Operations requires dedicated paratroopers.
"You have to be physically fit because of the suit and extra equipment," Hill said. "When we jump, we plan to be self-sustained which makes our rucksacks heavier."
In the end, Geranen thinks there is just cause for all paratroopers in the Army to be rough terrain qualified.
"In my opinion, anyone who is airborne should be rough terrain qualified so they can be inserted to any area of the world within 96 hours," Geranen said. "It doesn't matter the terrain; we don't need a drop zone."
For the Soldiers who completed the week long course, the final test will be held in a two-day event Oct. 26-27 when the Soldiers perform two Rough Terrain Airborne Operations successfully.