Students attend first air assault school held in Europe in 5 years

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SCHWEINFURT,Germany — Army Sgt. Alfredo Hernandez, a military policeman with the 18th Military Police Brigade, practices a falling drill while doing a practice rappel down a steep hill during the air assault training at Camp Robertson May 4. The class was the first time air assault training has been held in Europe since 2005. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Fay Conroy)

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Army Pfc. Elisha Pearson, a supply specialist with 16th Special Troops Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, receives encouragement from a Mobile Training Team air assault instructor May 4, while learning how to properly belay. The students were practicing rappelling on a steep hill before attempting to rappel down the 40-foot tower. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Fay Conroy)

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Students attending the air assault course at Camp Robertson were required to rappel down a 40-foot tower to earn their air assault wings May 4. During their descent they were required to let go of the rope and lean backwards to simulate falling, which would build their confidence in their belay man. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Fay Conroy)

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Students receive last minute instructions from Mobile Training Team air assault instructors May 4, before they start their descent down a steep hill. The hill was the students' first attempt at rappelling during Air Assault School at Camp Robertson. The school was held April 26-May 7. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Fay Conroy)

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — The 10-day air assault school held at Camp Robertson May 7 is the first air assault course held in Europe since 2005.

A Mobile Training Team from the Warrior Training Center in Fort Benning, Ga., provided the instructors for the course.

Over 209 students arrived at Camp Robertson to participate in the training, but the numbers quickly diminished as students fell prey to obstacles with names such as Tough One, The Dirty Name and Skyscraper.

By day seven and the start of phase three, which is where the students learn basic rappelling, there were 189 students left.

During the rappelling phase students learned how to tie the hip rappel seat or swiss seat, hook-up techniques, lock-in procedures, belay procedures, how to rappel with and without combat equipment, and fast rope familiarization.

"We start out teaching them hook up procedures and belay procedures and then they'll go through ground training, which is just the walking stage of rappelling," said Army Sgt. Adam Lamberson, one of the military training team. "Then they'll move to the slant wall, which is a little more advanced, a little more steep. We'll do the wall side today and then we'll go into the open side."

The open side consists of rappels without combat equipment, three brakes to the ground, a semi-combat lock-in and then a full combat load, where students wear all their modular lightweight load-carrying equipment and carry their rucksacks and rifles, said Lamberson.

For one of the students, the rappel phase was not something to be feared; instead she considered it a reward for making it that far in the course.

"I'm very excited because all of us have worked so hard to get this far. It takes a lot of mental and physical strength," said Army Staff Sgt. Margarita Flores, a paralegal with Headquarters Company, 18th Military Police Brigade.

The next obstacle for the students to overcome is the 12-mile road march, which must be completed in three hours in order for the students to graduate. The graduation is scheduled for May 7.

Another air assault course is already being planned for fiscal year 2011.

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