Air Assault Training
The Army's ultimate goal is to prepare units to be able to deploy, fight, and win. The modern battlefield is more lethal than ever before and demands that every unit be combat ready in order to survive and succeed. Success depends on a unit's ability to cope with the dynamics of battle.
F-2. Ready now.
The training program must produce trained individuals in combat-effective units capable of fighting and winning. Training is a full-time job for all commanders, regardless of other operations or missions.
Air assault training is integrated into unit programs on a routine basis to develop capability at each level from squad through battalion.
Commanders at all echelons are responsible for their unit's air assault training. The objective is for units to conduct air assault operations with speed, precision, and confidence. Infantry units, as well as other combat, combat support, and combat service support units, should routinely receive such training.
F-5. Small unit tactics.
Standard infantry small unit tactics and techniques are the basis for the ground phase of air assault operations. The commander ensures that all units are proficient in these tactics. He then combines this training with the other phases peculiar to air assault operations: landing, air movement, loading, and staging. He emphasizes rapid loading and unloading of aircraft, as well as quickly organizing maneuver elements on the landing zone to take advantage of the speed and mobility of air assault operations.
F-6. Small unit leader training.
The commander trains his small unit leaders to operate independent of their parent organization to accomplish their part of the overall mission. Additionally, small unit leaders must be able to take charge in the absence of their superiors. The speed and complex nature of air assault operations dictates the use of SOPS and battle drills.
The commander trains his units to travel light, consistent with the mission, taking only necessary equipment and supplies.
F-8. SOP and training.
a. Procedures for conducting air assault operations are included in unit standing operating procedures. While SOPS include routine actions that personnel might have to complete during an operation, they must also include procedures for downed aircraft, bump plans, or other conditions that may occur during the conduct of air assault operations.
b. The training Program includes sufficient training to ensure that personnel are familiar with, and proficient in, the procedures contained in the SOP.
c. During training, the information in the SOP is evaluated for completeness, simplicity, and applicability. Procedures are refined as necessary.
F-9. Land navigation.
Land navigation proficiency by all leaders is critical to success. Leaders must learn to locate positions, navigate to specific points, and use the terrain to their advantage.
F-10. Field artillery support training considerations.
a. The fire support officer and fire support team from the fire support unit train with the maneuver unit. They become familiar with the maneuver unit's SOP and teach selected personnel of maneuver units how to plan for, employ, call for, and adjust artillery and mortar fires. This makes it imperative that the habitual working relationship between the fire support and maneuver units be maintained to ensure mutual understanding of operational requirements, capabilities, and limitations. That relationship is one in which the same fire support units support a particular maneuver unit for each operation.
b. To support air assault operations, the field artillery must be proficient in slingloading operations and the planning required to execute PZ and/or LZ operations. This planning requires field artillery leaders to coordinate closely with the maneuver unit that normally controls the lift assets and the aviation units involved. Slingloading techniques require frequent training for both the hookup teams and the helicopter crews. A detailed discussion of slingloading procedures is contained in FM 55-450-1.
F-11. Aviation units.
a. Aviation unit commanders assist ground unit commanders in the development of training in the technical aspects of combined aviation and ground unit training. They also ensure that their units are technically proficient.
b. The habitual working relationship between the maneuver and aviation units is maintained whenever possible.
F-12. Infantry and aviation.
Combined infantry and aviation training is integrated into the tactical training of larger units. Ground and aviation units train together in all types of weather and reduced visibility. Both elements improve procedures to develop and refine compatible SOPs for high levels of readiness. (This is important for mechanized infantry in the heavy divisions which have inadequate organic aviation support for extensive air assault operations.)
DEVELOPING AIR ASSAULT TRAINING PROGRAMS
A training program for air assault operations should include those critical, individual collective skills necessary for the successful accomplishment of the wartime mission. Unit training should be concentrated in areas where weaknesses exist.
F-14. Conduct of training.
a. Air assault training begins by familiarizing individuals in aircraft procedures to include loading and unloading, crash procedures, and aircraft safety. Proficiency in these provides a foundation for collective training of ground and aviation units.
b. Collective training should include battle drills on loading and unloading as well as organizing into combat formations on the landing zone. This will allow units to maximize the speed and mobility of air assault operations.
F-15. Use of mockups.
a. Constraints on aviation unit flying hours will limit the amount of flight time available for training. Therefore, much of the individual and small unit training will have to be accomplished using aircraft mockups. Plywood and other materials from salvage sources can be used to build the mockups. They may be man-portable and are relatively inexpensive. They can be used to train individuals on how to approach a helicopter, how to get on it, and how to get off. Air assault battle drill can be taught by using mockups. Personnel from the combat support company can be trained to load weapons, equipment, supplies, and ammunition on helicopters by practicing on mockups.
b. If the unit has a local training area of adequate size, several mockups can be used to practice battle drill to include the way the unit should offload aircraft in the landing zone. The mockups can be placed in different patterns to simulate different landing formations. Four UH-60 mockups should be sufficient for platoon training.
F-16. Familiarity with helicopters.
Commanders should be aware that many soldiers have never been near a helicopter. An attempt should be made to have at least one helicopter available early in the training cycle.
F-17. Individual and unit training.
The following subjects should be included in appropriate phases of individual and unit training:
a. Ground units.
(1) Subjects required to attain proficiency in ground combat skills and tactics.
(2) SOP battle drills.
(3) Physical and psychological preparedness.
(4) Methods and procedures for control and guidance of aircraft.
(5) Safety procedures in and around aircraft.
(6) Control and adjustment of supporting fires.
(7) Subjects required to attain proficiency in preparing internal and external aircraft loads.
(8) Practical experience in land and aerial navigation.
(9) Employment of attack helicopter units.
(10) Aircraft troop commander duties.
(11) Rappelling from helicopters.
(12) Downed aircraft procedures.
(13) LZ and/or PZ selection.
(14) PZ control.
(15) Proficiency in CS and CSS skills and techniques.
b. Aviation units.
(1) Operations planning.
(2) Nap-of-the-earth flying techniques and navigation.
(3) Formation flying.
(4) Marginal weather and reduced visibility flying techniques.
(5) Camouflage and security of aircraft.
(6) Employment of aerial weapon systems.
(7) Aircraft maintenance in a combat field environment.
(8) Unit control of aircraft and air traffic.
(9) Pathfinder procedures and techniques.
(10) Flight operations in confined areas with maximum loads.
(11) Operations with external loads.
(12) Aerial reconnaissance and security techniques.
(13) Battle drills.
c. Subjects common to aviation and ground units.
(1) Threat organizations and doctrine.
(2) Recognition of Threat vehicles and antiaircraft weapons and knowledge of their capabilities.
(3) Conduct of liaison and coordination.
(4) Forward refueling techniques.
(5) Training in defense against NBC weapons.
(6) Signal security, discipline, and electronic countermeasures.
(7) Aeromedical evacuation procedures.
(8) Procedures for aerial resupply.
(9) Training in air assault SOPS.
Training time and resources must be used efficiently. Each element of the unit should be prepared to do its part before joining support units for combined exercises. Squad and platoons should be trained in:
- Air assault battle drill.
- Preparation of internal and external loads.
F-19. Staff training.
Staffs of ground and aviation elements must be trained in planning and conducting air assault operations with emphasis on the following:
- Capabilities arid limitations of air assault operations.
- Command and staff relationships.
- Development of a plan using reverse planning sequence.
- Fire support means and control, and fire planning for air assault operations.
- Logistical procedures and requirements for air assault operations.
- Preparation of the air movement table.
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