Preparing for the air assault

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Benroth
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 820th Base Defense Group provide the mission capabilities to rapidly deploy and provide integrated defense capabilities in a volatile environment.

The 820th BDG is the Air Force's sole unit organized, trained and equipped to conduct integrated base defense in high-threat areas. The mission of the group is to provide high-risk force protection and integrated base defense for expeditionary air forces.

Providing this mission means the members need to have the ability to enter a battlefield by multiple means. That's why members prepare themselves and train for the Army Air Assault School where they learn air assault helicopter operations, aircraft orientation, sling-load operations, proper rappelling techniques and fast-rope techniques.

All this is taught over a 10-day course but in order to be accepted into the school members are required to complete an obstacle course, two-mile run and an inspection of equipment prior to continuing training.

"The reason we put Airmen through this assessment is to ensure they are up to the challenges they face upon entering the course," said Tech. Sgt. Garret Brown, 820th BDG NCO in charge of training. "The last thing we want our people to worry about is passing the physical portion of the course. We want them totally focused on learning everything they possibly can."

The obstacle course is designed to assess upper body strength, agility, endurance, confidence, and ability to perform at heights without displaying fear or distress.

This test determines if a student will be able to complete Air Assault School without becoming a safety risk to themselves, instructors or other students during the training.

"We want to prepare them and gauge their readiness for the Army Air Assault School," Sergeant Brown said. "We want to ensure each member we send will have the willpower to push through and graduate this course."

Once the students pass the physical portion they move on to the actual Air Assault School which is made up of three phases.

Phase one is combat assault where the students learn combat assault operations, aero medical evacuation, close combat attacks and more.

During phase two the students learn various aspects of sling-load operations. At the end of this phase each student is required to conduct an actual hook-up of a load underneath a helicopter.

Phase three is the rappelling phase where the students receive instruction on basic ground and aircraft rappelling procedures. During this, the members will perform a controlled decent from a rappelling tower and from an actual helicopter.

"The reason I want to participate in this schooling is because this will broaden my knowledge and enhance the capabilities of the 820th BDG," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Smith, 820th BDG training NCO. "Coming into it I knew it would be physically and mentally demanding, but I will give it my all to become air assault-qualified."

The 820th BDG currently has 44 members qualified as air assault members and is looking to send three more members to the school to become qualified.