By Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli
Colorado Army National Guard
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado Army National Guard's newest infantry battalion conducted air assault training, Nov. 14, 2008 at Fort Carson, Colo., with the help of 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment.
Colorado National Guard's Company A, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment was at Fort Carson for a three-day training event. Known as a "MUTA 6," the Soldiers arrived for duty Friday morning to begin training.
"The focus of our training this weekend is to occupy an assembly area and [conduct] squad patrols," said Infantry Squad Leader Staff Sgt. Robert Girard of Company A, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, who recently transferred to the Colorado Army National Guard from the active duty Army.
Arriving with three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters Friday morning, the infantry Soldiers prepared themselves for air assault training with 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment.
"We'll start off first phase which will be static load training. Then we'll conduct an air assault into a landing zone on the south side of Fort Carson," said Maj. Brey Hopkins of 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry. Once off the Black Hawk at the landing zone, the Soldiers will conduct squad patrol operations, he said.
Staff Sgt. Marc Belo, a Black Hawk crew chief assigned to 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, briefed the Infantrymen about getting on and off a Black Hawk helicopter with their weapon and gear in hand.
"Put [the ruck sack] on your knees," said Belo. "Then when we land and the doors open, throw the rucks right out. It doesn't matter who has what gear at that moment just to get out."
Belo also gave the infantrymen a thorough safety brief about air assault training in a Black Hawk.
The infantrymen were instructed to move a few feet out of the doors on either side of the Black Hawk without moving too far toward the front or rear of the aircraft. Belo explained why it was important for Soldiers to not block the front sides of the aircraft.
"During an air assault, for those few seconds while the aircraft is on the ground, [the Black Hawk gunner maintains] the biggest guns out here," said Belo emphasizing why it's important to not get in the gunner's way.
As with all Army training, the air assault training was done in phases - crawl, walk, run. The phases, starting at the slowest and moving to "combat" speed, help Soldiers train safely while learning a new task.
The battalion was converted earlier this year from field artillery.
"We don't have the experience in infantry so we are establishing the building blocks," said Girard. With relief, Girard added that the company is starting to do its job [as infantry] - light infantry tactics – versatile, mobile and disciplined.
Combining many training elements into one weekend, after the air assault training, the company will ruck march approximately four miles to their next objective.
Despite Colorado's winter weather and intermittent snow showers, the Soldiers will train until Sunday introducing infantry tactics to their newest members and reinforcing basic Soldiering skills to veteran members.