Given the extensive use of air-assault tactics during the Vietnam War, it might come as a surprise that the Army had no Air Assault Badge until April 1, 1974, when the Commander of the 101st Airborne Division approved the wear of an Airmobile Badge for members of the division. Although the name of the Badge would change from Airmobile to Air Assault when the 101st Airborne was redesignated in October, 1974, more than three years would pass from before the Army approved the Air Assault Badge for Army-wide wear.

The eligibility requirements for wear of the Air Assault Badge are simple: You must complete either an air-assault training course that follows the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Program of Instruction (POI)) or the standard Air Assault Course while attached or assigned to the 101st Airborne after April 1, 1974.

In addition to conforming to height and weight standards set for in AR 600-9, candidates for Air Assault School must have at least one full year of active-duty service remaining when they complete the eleven-day course. The eleven-day course is bookended by physical tests: an obstacle course and 2-miles run make up “Day Zero,” while Graduation Day is “celebrated” with a 12-mile foot march (in full gear, complete with rucksack) that must be finished in under two hours.

The nine days in between are broken into a trio of three-day phases. The first revolves around the tactics and technologies of Combat Assault, with students learning and practicing the principles of aeromedical evacuation, pathfinder and combat-assault ops, and aircraft safety. Phase two focuses on Slingloading—the highly specialized method of attaching heavy equipment and other cargo to a hovering helicopter via a tethered sling. The final phase teaches rappelling skills, both from aircraft and on ground terrain; success means completing two rappels from a 34-foot tower and another two from a UH-60 Blackhawk hovering up to 30 yards above the ground.

An Air Assault Badge can be revoked if the awarding authority comes to the determination that the awardee has not maintained the prescribed levels of fitness or preparation necessary to successfully carry out air-assault missions. The exact process of revocation is spelled out in Section 1-32 of AR 600-8-22.

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