Soldiers learn air-assault training at Fort Indiantown Gap

ANNVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) — More than 100 air assault students had to really work for their lunch Thursday when Fort Indiantown Gap hosted an air assault course.

“Everyone thinks when you’re doing air assault, you’re rappelling out of a helicopter. That’s only part of it,” Fort Indiantown Gap Commander, Col. Robert F. Hepner said.

It’s a 10-day course designed to prepare soldiers for insertion, evacuation and pathfinder missions.

“For the big picture, for the Army, it’s another form of insertion, for getting troops and supplies into an area that a helicopter may not be able to land in,” said Captain Ronald Snyder, Bravo Group Commander.

The students learned the mastery of rappelling techniques and sling load procedures, skills that involve intense concentration and a commitment to safety.

“They can sling load equipment, ammunition, vehicles to remote locations that are not accessible by road. This is useful in both humanitarian aid missions, emergency situations stateside, and overseas, obviously, to get combat equipment out to strange areas,” Snyder said.

The students practiced rappelling then had to secure of sling load of their lunch. This training will prepare them for natural disaster situations like hurricanes.

“That’s something that we could very easily be doing right here in Pennsylvania,” Hepner said. “With flash floods, when we need to get food to somebody or snowstorms and we need to get food to somebody, we have to air assault things in.”

This is the first time Fort Indiantown Gap has hosted air assault training and they say it is here to stay.

“The opportunity to bring this here and get this many people qualified for that warrior mission, for the go-to-war mission, this training is going to be vital for them in that go-to-war mission. It’s just outstanding,” Hepner said.

There are 164 students set to graduate from the U.S. Army Air Assault School on Friday. However, they first had to run 12 miles at 3 a.m.

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