Air Assault

Air Assault is Army shorthand for the movement of troops and equipment to battle by means of helicopters. Now, loading and unloading infantry from helicopters is not a great intellectual challenge. I’ve done, so there’s your proof.

Having said that, there are techniques that do require a greater level of training. Preparing and sling-loading vehicles and supplies is an art and a science. Rapelling from helicopters is also a specialized technique that most soldiers don’t train on.

To pass on this tribal knowledge, the Army has Air Assault School. Selected soldiers attend this school, qualifying to facilitate the technical aspects of arial movement, and take this knowledge back to their parent units.

Now, rapelling from helicopters is somewhat simple. Gravity does most of the work. But it does have its risks. In order to mitigate them, there is  a further level of training, the Rapell Master Course. Every time a helicopter has troops rappelling from it, a qualified Rapell Master has to supervise. And so it was that my platoon sergeant in Hawaii, SFC Lopez was attending the Rapell Master Course. The final excercise was to supervise a soldier rapelling 12 times from a Huey, and 12 times from a Blackhawk. I quickly volunteered to be his “dope on a rope.”

After a very pleasant day spent flinging myself from a helicopter to slide somewhat gracefully to the ground, SFC Lopez and I returned to our unit. As we were driving back, SFC Lopez looked closely at my uniform. “PFC Bear? Where’s your Air Assault badge? You are out of uniform!”

“Uh, Sergeant Lopez, um, I’m not Air Assault qualified.” Hey, I just wanted to have a fun day.