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Air Assault completes validation, set for opening in June

Email   Print   Share By Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Staff
May 24, 2012 | News
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Staff Sergeants Jesus Pena, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, and Sergio Cardenas, 1-3rd Cavalry Regiment, rush to the bottom of “Slide for Life” obstacle April 20. The III Corps Air Assault School will host its first course at the end of June. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Staff
The III Corps Air Assault School is now one step closer to becoming validated as the Army’s third Air Assault School, joining schools at Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Benning, Ga.

Throughout the week last week, Tim Hutchens, with the directorate of quality assurance at Fort Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, completed a five-day inspection of Fort Hood’s systems and procedures.

“It ensures that we’re covering military guidelines and all of our paperwork is in accordance, everyone is in their assigned positions, (and) everyone is qualified to be in those positions,” 1st Sgt. Jason Williams, first sergeant of the III Corps Air Assault School said, listing

part of what the inspection encompassed.

Running a successful Air Assault School includes more than signing Soldiers up and having them work through the course, Williams added. Behind the scenes, instructors need to be trained and certified, while stacks and stacks of paperwork need to be in order.

The course that Soldiers will participate in at the III Corps Air Assault School is split into three phases, Williams said, and at each phase, it’s essential the instructors are qualified for each task.

“All of our instructors have to have the Army Basic Instructors Course. The only people that were exempt were the drill sergeants, because we take that during drill sergeant school,” Williams said. “Everyone had to be Air Assault qualified.”

He added, “Certain phases, Phase 1 and 2, have to have a pathfinder in charge of it, so we sent four Soldiers, two per phase, to Pathfinder School.”

Williams described the Pathfinder School as a place where graduates of the Air Assault School go to become a more specialized Soldier.

For the final phase, Phase 3, instructors are required to be rappel masters, Williams said.

“We have three rappel masters now, and we’ll have three more going right after the inspection. We only had to have one rappel master, but we went ahead and overqualified and sent everyone in Phase 3,” he said. “There are two aircrafts, so we’ll have one rappel master for each aircraft and then four rappel masters on the ground. That way everyone involved with that aircraft operation can know what’s going on. It’s a redundancy.”

Beginning June 22, the school will host 125 Soldiers in its first course. At that time, Hutchens and his crew will return to monitor the performance of the course and the school’s instructors, which will serve as the school’s final step in the accreditation process.

The course is set to end July 3.
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