FORT BRAGG, N.C. – More than 40 paratroopers of the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, conducted a battalion breachers course, on Fort Bragg, N.C., July 29 through Aug. 9.
The “Red Falcons,” currently part of the nation’s Global Response Force, held a breachers training course designed to equip infantry team members with the skills necessary to destroy obstacles like concertina or barbed wire barriers and employ mechanical, ballistic and explosive means of gaining rapid entry into locked structures. Such skills could prove particularly necessary in support of contingency missions like noncombatant evacuation operations.
Just one part of a two-week effort to standardize and enhance special skills and mission essential task capabilities within individual teams across the battalion, the breachers course was conducted alongside engineer and Ranger-trained subject matter experts. Just some of the other train-the-trainer courses also being taught those weeks were advanced rifle marksmanship, driver’s training, machine gun leaders course, and mortar certification. By training a representative from each subordinate platoon, squad or team, the battalion can ensure that the same standard is passed on to every team member.
“This will allow the paratroopers to have a better understanding of individual tasks so that when we go to platoon collective training or if we have to go into theater, it will make them more proficient across the battalion,” said 1st Lt. Warner Thompson, the officer-in-charge of the breachers training course.
“The battalion is setting the standard of where we need to operate at.”
The first phase of breachers training led the Red Falcon paratroopers through wire obstacle clearing procedures. Improvised devices like the bangalore torpedo, a piece of metal pipe filled with explosives, can be used to quickly blast holes through razor wire barriers.
The troops then moved into urban breaching procedures. For the mechanical breaching instruction, the Falcons became familiar with tools like battering rams and the Halligan tool, a large prying bar also used by fireman for forcing open locked doors.
Once inside the building, the Falcons demonstrated the ballistic breaching technique. Using the M500 shotgun and ceramic Hatton rounds, students shattered the locking system with two carefully placed shots.
The final door to confront the teams required the use of one of two improvised explosive tools to open. The first, a “knob knocker,” consisted of a loop of detonating cord placed on the door handle that blasts the entire lock apart. The second option was the “flex linear charge,” a length of detonating cord secured to the door with tape that is intended to cut the door off of its hinges.
With the use of explosives required for this training, the Red Falcons sought engineer support.
“We taught a classroom portion and then a practical exercise on both the mined wire obstacle and urban breaching,” said Sgt. Aaron Wunderlin, the ranking combat engineer on site. “I’ve been lucky to go to a lot of schools and I enjoy sharing those techniques with these guys.”
Thompson, a Red Falcon platoon leader, emphasized the importance of teaching these techniques to the young infantrymen.
Because of the Global Response Force mission, those paratroopers may be called upon to safely extract American citizens from danger areas, said Thompson.
The breachers training gives the paratroopers the skill set to accomplish the mission as quickly and safely as possible, he added.
Some junior paratroopers expressed a similar sentiment of the value of the training.
The Red Falcons have been through breaching courses before but this training was more beneficial by having master breachers come out and teach it, making the paratroopers more proficient, said Spc. Matthew Hibbner, a 325th AIR infantryman.