Oct. 7, 2009

Soldiers from 183rd RTI teach Rappel Master operations

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va.—Instructors of the Virginia Guard’s 1st Battalion, 183rd Regimental Training Institute, headquartered at Fort Pickett, concluded an iteration of the U.S. Army Rappel Master Course Oct. 2, which started with 46 students from across the nation.

 

The 183d Regional Training Institute teaches the U.S. Army Rappel Master Course to Soldiers from around the nation at Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center Sept. 28-Oct .. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) For more photos, please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page.

The Virginia Rappel Master instructors begin the five-day course by overwhelming the students with information and tests designed to weed out the Soldiers who may not be able to hack it toward the end of the course.

The students start with three large tasks on how to properly inspect equipment, as well as a test every day. They are placed in an attention detailed environment, where they are given sequence-driven exercises to test their ability to follow and provide directions in a very specific order.

Although the class started with 46 students from the active and reserve components of the U.S. Army, only 25 of the Soldiers made it to the final day of class, according to Staff Sgt. Matthew Stemmler, an instructor for the course.

“There is usually a 50-60 percent attrition rate for the course’” said Stemmler.

The course arms the graduates with the ability to take the knowledge and skills back to their home units and are responsible for rappelling operations from UH-60s and towers, according to Stemmler.

 

A Soldier attending Rappel Master course at Fort Pickett, Va. rappels from a
UH-60 during the final phase of the course, the Aircraft Command and Control Test. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) For more photos, please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page.

One of the pre-requisites for this class is the Soldier must be Air Assault qualified. Another requirement is for the Soldier to be a noncommissioned officer or an officer.

“A lot of this course here is just like the sling load phase in Air Assault,”said Stemmler. It’s very attention to detail, and sequence driven. As long you stay in the sequence we teach, then you should be good to go.”

The final phase of the course is the Aircraft Command and Control Test, where students oversee other students rappel out of UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. They oversee two other students rappel from the aircraft while inspecting their equipment and safety harnesses, and ensure the safety of the Soldiers from the time they enter the aircraft until they reach the ground and are clear from the helicopter.

 “This has increased my technical knowledge of rappelling operations,” said 1st Lt. Michael Santos, a student from the 1st Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team. “As a leader it is vital to understand the technical aspects of what you are doing in order to plan and supervise the execution of those duties.

“It’s very thorough and very fast-paced,” said Santos.

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