U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) Soldiers are earning their Pathfinder badge at Fort Bragg thanks to the National Guard Warrior Training Center Mobile Training Team.
“So far the training has been really good, it’s an intense course mentally. The amount of information you have to retain is immense and having to do it all in two weeks versus going down to the 507th and having three weeks to do it in, makes it rough,” said Sgt. Christopher Kennedy, an operations noncommissioned officer at USACAPOC (A) Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
While active-duty Soldiers normally go to Fort Benning, Ga., for three weeks, these Army Reserve Soldiers are receiving the same training in a condensed format of just 12 training days.
“We have five less training days and we train on the weekends, but I think it helps keep the Soldiers focused. We have a higher graduation rate than any of the other pathfinder courses,” said Sgt. 1st Class Douglas Bushey, Pathfinder noncommissioned officer in charge, Warrior Training Center and member of the Minnesota National Guard.
One of the hands-on training events USACAPOC (A) Soldiers completed involved coordinating with UH-60 pilots to drop supplies then later standing underneath the hovering helicopter just feet away from its belly to hook up a load.
“We talked with the pilots to conduct a flight pattern around the drop zone, giving them commands to execute their drop today, and then we moved into sling load hands on, where we actually hooked up a sling load to a UH-60,” said Kennedy.
Some Soldiers will have to re-take tests before being able to undergo the final challenge — the field training exercise. But for those who graduate, the accomplishment will be well worth the experience.
“It’s mentally challenging and there’s a lot of math, it’s been tough. The drop zone test was the hardest,” said Spc. Alvaro Morales, a rigger with the 824th Quartermaster Detachment also at Fort Bragg. “But I am more than ready to graduate, getting to wear that badge, it’s pride, you earned it.”