News: Air assault training at Joint Security Station Aqur Quf
Story by Pfc. Kimberly Hackbarth
BAGHDAD — Like something right out of an Army recruitment commercial, a helicopter landed in the center of an open sandy space, kicking up dust in every direction as Soldiers in full body armor jumped out and dropped flat on their stomachs with heads low and weapons aimed.
These Soldiers, however, were not in a commercial. They are members of 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division practicing loading onto and off of a UH-60 Black Hawk during air assault training, Dec.4.
The platoon leader, 1st Lt. Mark Hamilton signed up his Soldiers for the training to meet the battalion's objective of having every Soldier be familiar with air assault tactics.
"As a Stryker Brigade, there are places the vehicles that we use can't go because of their size and weight," said Hamilton. "It's always good to have platoons capable of doing a quick air mission, so when the time comes to do an air assault mission, [the commander] can pick any platoon and know that they're qualified," said Hamilton, a Baltimore, Md., native.
For Pvt. Aaron Flanagan, a squad automatic weapon gunner, it was his first time taking part in this type of training. The Mount Vernon, Ill., native said he enjoyed jumping out of the Black Hawk onto the ground.
But while he had fun during the training, Flanagan knew that the training was important to the mission of the brigade.
"It shows that they want us to be on top of the game and know what we're doing in different situations," said Flanagan. "If we need to do something a Stryker can't do, it shows the brigade is ready to do it, even if we are not in our normal vehicles."
The training included a night assault that had the Soldiers apply the same skills after the sun went down that they learned during the daytime.
By the end of the training day, the Soldiers, covered in dirt from their numerous exits from the Black Hawks, learned the basic skills needed to execute an air assault mission and looked forward to future training sessions.