In simple terms, the United States Armed Forces is divided in five different branches; Navy, Marine, Army, Coast Guard and Air Force. The Navy is responsible for protecting the oceans and providing amphibious assaults during times of critical warfare, like the landing at Normandy. Coast Guard is set up to protect the American coast, unlike the navy they don’t drift far from the North American coastline and don’t provide military assaults that the navy does. The army is the largest branch of the Armed Forces and are responsible for land-based military operations, Marines are responsible for providing power projection operations from the sea landing on shores and are considered the first line of defense. Arguably, the most crucial aspect of any military operation is the Air Force, and throughout history planes and the people who fly them often play an instrumental role to stymie enemies and catching them off guard. During the Berlin Blockade when land routes were completely blocked, the air was the only means to get essential resources to a city strangled by Soviet forces. Airmen do more than just fly planes and drop bombs clearing the way for the Army or Marines, they also train their soldiers in parachuting.
Basic Military Parachute Training
It is essential for any aspiring airmen to learn to parachute from planes at high altitudes for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the only means of attacking an enemy is by deploying military personal by having them jump from planes behind enemy lines. This tactic was used extensively during World War II and various of proxy wars during the Cold War to inject reinforcements to dwindling areas or to catch an enemy off guard by coming in from behind. Basically, this training will teach military personnel how to jump out of a aircraft, navigate by using your parachute, land safely on the ground and move on to combat areas. In order to be eligible to participate in this training a soldier must first complete Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training, pass a strict fitness test and be younger than 36 years old.
Week 1: Ground Work
In the military, they don’t refer to jumping out of an aircraft as “Parachute Training,” but rather the common term is called “Jump School”. Jump School is a 3 week long intensive program where the soldier is taught by the 1st battalion (Airborne) and 507th Infantry Regiment. Before the soldier even enters the aircraft, they must first learn how to safely land on the ground. They are taught how to properly wear a harness and to transfer their energy to their legs and knees and landing with both extremities at the same time.
Week 2: Tower Week
Soldiers will use a 34-foot tower where they will familiarize themselves with mass exiting training, when to deploy the parachute and how to steer the parachute. All this is occurring without ever stepping foot on a moving aircraft, they are on a tower to simulate what being on an airplane feels like; if they don’t have these basic skills first they can face grave outcomes when they step foot on an aircraft. Once the soldier receives favorable grades from these first two weeks they can finally proceed to the final week, if they did not receive passing grades during this physical test than they will have to redo the school from the beginning until a satisfactory grade is reached.
Week 3: Jump Week
This is the culmination of all soldiers, all the hard work of learning the intricacies of how to steer, use and deploy a parachute they can finally get in the aircraft and test their skills. The aircraft travels at 130MPH and about 1500 feet above the ground, each soldier is required to complete five jumps in a variety of configurations. If the soldiers complete the jumps to the satisfaction of the teachers than they can graduate and complete their Jump School training.
High Altitude Military Parachuting
Unlike Jump School where the soldiers are taught to free fall for several minutes before deploying their chutes, the high altitude military parachuting troops deploy their parachutes seconds after they jump. These troops will use compasses to guide them, while in the air, steering their chutes to the desired locations.