The Fort Bragg Air Assault School opened on Sept. 5, which no longer requires Fort Bragg Soldiers to leave the installation for course attendance.
The purpose of Air Assault school is to train Soldiers on missions performed by rotary wing aircraft.
The senior enlisted member of the XVIII Airborne Corps saw the need for a course at Fort Bragg to prepare rapidly deploying Soldiers from Fort Bragg.
“Command Sergeant Major Isaia T. Vimoto felt that, with his prior experiences as the first sergeant of the Sabalauski Air Assault School at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and through his experiences in the Army, that air assault operations are being performed frequently,” said Capt. Matthew Smoose, commander of the Fort Bragg Air Assault School. “Airborne operations are an important aspect to maintain, but we find our Soldiers using this skill set more often. When you are downrange, you are always riding in helicopters or sling loading equipment for supply or movements. We have used those skills throughout the entire War on Terror.”
The mission of the Fort Bragg Air Assault School is to train Soldiers in air assault operations, sling-load operations, and rappelling.
Upon graduation of the course, each Soldier will be able to perform skills required to maximize use of helicopter assets in training and combat to support their unit’s operations.
Soldiers who are scheduled to attend the course must meet the prerequisites 30 to 90 days out.
The prerequisites for the course are: The Soldier must meet height and weight standards in accordance with Army Regulation 600-9, successfully pass the Army Physical Fitness Test, complete a 12-mile foot march, equipment inspection, have one year retainability, and a current physical for Soldiers 40 or older.
The course is broken down into three phases but before that, Soldiers must make it through Day Zero.
“It shows (the cadre) if the Soldier’s heart is in the course,” said Staff Sgt. Vladimir Ilin, an instructor at the Fort Bragg Air Assault School.
It involves physical training, a two-mile run in the Army combat uniform with tennis shoes, and a six-mile foot march.”
After students make it through Day Zero, Phase One begins.
“During Phase One, the students learn about the capabilities of different Army helicopters,” said Smoose.
“The students will learn how much the helicopters can carry. It will also include learning how big a landing zone has to be, how many helicopters can operate on a landing zone, and proper markings of the site.”
Once students learn about the capabilities of different helicopters, Phase Two begins.
“Phase Two deals with sling load operations,” said Smoose.
“The students learn how to rig and inspect equipment that has been rigged for sling load.”
Phase Two has proven to be the most challenging part of the entire course.
“The largest drop is from sling load operations,” said Ilin. “(Phase Two) has a 50-question test involving multiple numbers and weights. The students also have a hands-on test for inspecting sling loads and have to find three out of four deficiencies on the tested loads.”
The final phase, Phase Three, involves rappelling.
“Students will learn rappelling and how to tie a Swiss rappel seat,” said Smoose. “They also gain confidence rappelling off a tower. Finally, students will rappel out of a (UH-60) Black Hawk helicopter.”
After the three phases, students who graduate will receive the Air Assault Badge.
The Air Assault Badge wings suggest flight and together with the helicopter symbolizes individual skills and qualifications in assault landings utilizing the helicopter.
Getting the school established took a lot of work and coordination between units from across Fort Bragg.
“Getting this school going has been a large undertaking and could not of happened without the support of the XVIII Airborne Corps,” said Smoose.
The Air Assault School provides Soldiers with the skills necessary to perform operations involving helicopters, which will improve combat readiness.
With the rapid deployment of Fort Bragg Soldiers, this course is helping to expand their skill set.