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Air Assault Badge
AirAssault.gif
Awarded by United States Army
Type Badge
Awarded for Air Assault training course
Status Currently awarded
Statistics
Established 1974
Last awarded Ongoing
Precedence
Next (higher) Pathfinder Badge
Next (lower) Aviation Badges[1]

The Air Assault Badge[2] is awarded by the U.S. Army for successful completion of the Air Assault School, a two-week (ten-day) course. The course includes three phases of instruction involving U.S. Army rotary wing aircraft: combat air assault operations; rigging and slingload operations; and rappelling from a helicopter.

According to the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry, "The Air Assault Badge was approved by the Chief of Staff, Army, on 18 January 1978, for Army-wide wear by individuals who successfully completed Air Assault training after 1 April 1974. The badge had previously been approved as the Airmobile Badge authorized for local wear by the Commander of the 101st Airborne Division, effective 1 April 1974."[3] The division had been reorganized from parachute to airmobile in mid-1968 in Vietnam and designated the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile). The parenthetical designation changed to Air Assault on 4 October 1974 and the name of the badge was likewise changed.[4]

Training locations[edit | edit source]

Formal air assault training has been conducted at Fort Campbell, Kentucky by the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) since the Air Assault School was formed in 1974. During the early stages of the occupation of Iraq in late 2003, the division conducted a course in-theater to maintain Air Assault proficiency.[5]

Air Assault training is also offered by the Army National Guard (ARNG) Warrior Training Center[6] at Fort Benning, which conducts training both at the post and at a variety of other locations throughout the United States[7] by means of Mobile Training Teams.

The Fort Hood Sentinel announced on May 24, 2012 the start of the new III Corps Air Assault School in June 2012.[8]

Air assault training has also been offered over the years on either a continual or occasional basis at other locations, to include (but not limited to):

Air Assault training was also conducted by the 2/1 Calvary Squadron LRRP platoon in the mid 1980s. Rapplemaster certification courses were also offered during this same time period.

Most of these locations no longer run air assault courses.

Wear of the badge[edit | edit source]

The wear of the Air Assault Badge on Army uniforms is governed by AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms.[30]

Vietnam veterans of the 101st Airborne Division and 1st Cavalry Division have sought the retroactive award of the Air Assault Badge for their training and pioneering experience in combat, but the Army has yet to grant their request.[31]

Origin[edit | edit source]

An article in the Army Times dated 16 March 1981 featured a picture of an officer holding a set of Air Assault wings about a foot wide and included the paragraph below:

"Badge Designer: When he designed a badge for the 101st Abn Div in Vietnam in 1971, Maj. Jack R. Rickman thought that was the end of a project assigned by the division operations officer. Years later he recognized his design as the Air Assault Badge, which the Army adopted officially in January 1978. Rickman never earned the badge himself."

The design was influenced by the Parachutist Badge[32] worn when the division was on jump status, as well as the Glider Badge[33] worn by glider units during World War II. Charles Bloodworth, a pathfinder officer in the 101st during the early 1970s, wrote, "Locally designed and fabricated, the badge was deliberately crafted to mimic the glider wings of WWII. The nose of the Huey took the place of the glider body, and the horizontal rotor blade was the spitting image of the glider wing."[34][citation needed]

When the 101st returned from Vietnam to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was inactivated and its assets used to form the division's 3rd Brigade, which was on jump status. The remainder of the division was organized as Airmobile. In February 1974, Major General Sidney B. Berry, Commanding General, signed Division General Order 179 authorizing the wear of the Airmobile Badge. Concurrently it was announced that the 3rd Brigade would terminate its jump status effective 1 April 1974, the same date on which the Airmobile Badge would be authorized.[34]

Bloodworth describes the transition of the post-war division to fully Air Assault and the adoption of the Air Assault Badge at this link.[2]

Wing background trimmings[edit | edit source]

When the 101st adopted Air Assault wings, it also adopted their wear with the cloth wing background trimmings (ovals) previously worn behind Parachute wings. According to AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, "a background trimming is authorized for organizations designated (by structure, equipment and mission) 'Airborne' or 'Air Assault' by HQ DA. Qualified personnel are authorized to wear the background trimming with the Parachutist or Air Assault badges."[30] The following are wing trimmings worn by air assault qualified members of air assault units. These trimmings below are only the ones currently featured on the U.S. Army's Institute of Heraldry (TIOH) website and do not represent all of the trimmings authorized.

101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)[edit | edit source]

Air Assault Badge with background trimming (oval) for the 3d Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)

  • 1st BCT
    • 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment[35]
    • 426th Brigade Support Battalion (formerly 426th Forward Support Battalion)[36]
  • 2nd BCT
    • 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment[37]
    • 526th Brigade Support Battalion[38]
    • Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT[39]
  • 3rd BCT
    • 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment[40]
    • 626th Brigade Support Battalion[41]
    • Special Troops Battalion, 3d BCT[42]
  • 4th BCT
    • 506th Infantry Regiment
    • 1st Battalion 506th, Infantry Regiment
    • 2nd Battalion 506th, Infantry Regiment
    • 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment[43]
    • 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment[44]
    • 801st Brigade Support Battalion[45]
    • Special Troops Battalion, 4th BCT[46]

Army National Guard air assault units[edit | edit source]

Numerous units in the Army National Guard, such as the California ARNG's 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment[47] carry the parenthetical designation “Air Assault,” but the Institute of Heraldry has denied them the authorization to wear trimmings behind their Air Assault wings.

A letter dated 1 April 2004 from Colonel Paris M. Mack, Chief, R&R Task Force, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff G-1 to Lieutenant Colonel Steven Goff, Commander, 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry, states “current policy requires units to be designated as Airborne or Air Assault for Soldiers to be authorized the wear of the background trimming insignia on their service uniform. Force structure developers within Headquarters, Department of the Army, utilized the Air Assault Modified Table of Organization and Equipment (MTOE) when documenting your unit’s structure. Accordingly, the use of the Air Assault MTOE template for your organization was intended to provide Combatant Commanders a more ‘robust’ infantry structure, not to increase the number of air assault units in our Army today. Therefore, your MTOE narrative does not designate an air assault mission to your unit, nor does the current document provide the full resources normally authorized a designated Air Assault organization. Granting your request is not in keeping with the intent for which the organization was initially created; thus your request is denied.”

Original badge[edit | edit source]

OldAirmobileBadge.gif

On 7 February 1963 the colors of the 11th Airborne Division were reactivated at Fort Benning, GA, as the 11th Air Assault Division (Test). The 11th was a small unit, never intended for deployable status, used to test the airmobile concept then under development. Units of the 2nd Infantry Division, also located at Fort Benning, were “borrowed” for large-scale airmobile tests and maneuvers.

An earlier Air Assault Badge, pictured on the right, was worn in the early 1960s by troops of 11th who qualified for it by making three helicopter rappels from 60 feet (18 m) and three from 120 feet (37 m).[48] Soldiers were also required to be knowledgeable of aircraft safety procedures; familiar with aircraft orientation; proficient in hand and arm signals and combat assault operations; able to prepare, inspect and rig equipment for external sling loads; and able to lash down equipment inside helicopters. The badge was first awarded in early 1964 and was only authorized for wear by soldiers within the 11th, as it was a division award and not authorized for Army-wide wear by the Department of the Army.[49][50][citation needed]

On 30 June 1965 the colors of the 11th Air Assault Division were inactivated and its assets merged with the 2nd Infantry Division to become the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). The colors of the 2nd Infantry Division were sent to Korea, where the existing 1st Cavalry Division was reflagged as 2nd Infantry Division and the colors of the 1st Cavalry Division sent to Fort Benning. Shortly thereafter the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) was sent to Vietnam.

Air Force wear[edit | edit source]

All of the military services can and do send personnel to the U.S. Army's Air Assault School. Other than the Army, however, only the U.S. Air Force allows for the wear of the Air Assault Badge. Although the Miscellaneous Badges section of the 2012 update to AFI36-2903 (USAF's uniform regulation) has been removed, the Air Force Uniform Board still authorizes the Air Assault Badge, along with some other U.S. Army Special Skill Badges (such as the Parachute Rigger Badge), for wear on Air Force uniforms as a "permanent" decoration, "regardless of duty assignment," "upon graduation from Air Assault School."[51][52][53][54]

Navy, Marine Corps, & Coast Guard wear[edit | edit source]

The Army's Air Assault Badge is not authorized for wear on U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, or U.S. Coast Guard uniforms.[55][56][57]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Army Regulation 600-8-22 Military Awards (24 June 2013). Table 8-1, U.S. Army Badges and Tabs: Orders of precedence. p. 120
  2. TIOH page
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  30. 30.0 30.1 Army Regulation 670-1: Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia. Armypusb.army.mil.
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  51. AFI36-2903: Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, dated 18 July 2011, updated 1 June 2012, last accessed 13 April 2013
  52. Air Force Officials Release Uniform Board Results, Mountain Home Air Force Badge Website, posted 16 June 2009, last accessed 13 April 2013
  53. Airmen Vie for Slots in Army Air Assault Course, U.S. Air Force Official Website, posted 7 February 2011, last accessed 13 April 2013
  54. Official USAF Photo of Maj. Creel at Distinguished Flying Cross award ceremony wearing an Air Assault Badge on his USAF Service Dress Uniform, U.S. Air Force Official Website, posted: 18 May 2012, last accessed 13 April 2013
  55. Navy Uniform Regulations, Chapter 5, updated 24 March 2011, last accessed 3 August 2013
  56. Marine Corps Uniform Regulation P1020.34, Chapter 4, updated 29 October 2009, last accessed 3 August 2013
  57. Coast Guard Uniform Regulation, M1020.6G, updated March 2012, last accessed 3 August 2013

External links[edit | edit source]


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