Armucation: Airborne vs. Air Assault

Since I got a pretty good response on the last couple posts about my little Army knowledge, I figured I would semi-regularly write about details and tidbits about the Army. It is really educational for me too, so I hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about the Army.

There are a lot of qualifiers, training, and titles that go along with the Army. It can get confusing real quick!

Two of them are Airborne and Air Assault. These are known as qualifiers.

Fort Campbell is home of the 101st Airborne, which is one of the most famous units, most recognizably for Band of Brothers.

So most people have heard of Airborne before. If you were like me though, you may have never heard of Air Assault. One would think that it has to do with fighting in the air from plane to plane-assault in the air duh!

So here is your Armucation for the day.

Air Assault and Airborne are fairly similar. They both refer to the mode of transportation that a unit specializes in getting to their mission. And both have to do with vehicles that fly.

Airborne is when a unit jumps out of an airplane with parachutes. There is a school that you must go to at Ft. Benning, GA, to become qualified. It generally lasts for about 3 weeks. I am sure it involves some jumping in the air and what not.

Air Assault is when a unit deploys out of a helicopter. This also includes sling loads, which is basically a rope that is hooked underneath the helicopter. When Tom was deployed, this is how a lot of food, mail, supplies were delivered. The school is here at Ft. Campbell and lasts for 11 days.

both pictures via

Fast Facts:

  • These are an individual qualifier not an automatic right since you in stationed within the unit.
  • A soldier can be qualified for both, and it is not just restricted to the infantry.
  • From WWII there has always been an airborne unit.
  • The 101st Screaming Eagles is the only air assault unit in the world, but this doesn’t mean that other units aren’t air assault qualified.
  • There are a few Airborne units.
  • Everyone in the Army (or even infantry) is not qualified for either. From what I can tell, a lot of it may be due to your MOS and duty assignment and what options may be available there.
  • You can have gone on deployments before being “trained” for these. Tom went through the Air Assault school a month after he returned form his deployment.

There are two other “types” of transportation besides these Air Assault and Airborne.

  • “Light” is foot infantry meaning they come in by foot. They may use other vehicles, but they are made to do foot traffic.
  • “Mec” is mechanized infantry. This is when they roll in vehicles like strykers (kind of like a tank).

The mode of transportation will be picked depending on the mission and terrain they are going into. It is all situational, and the same area may call for all four depending on what is occurring at the time.

This is part of the Air Assault training. They have to rappel off the side you see but also off the other side where there is no wall. This thing is huge and kind of daunting, but I kind of want to do the jump…
Picture from http://www.campbell.army.mil/units/Sabalauski/Pages/AirAssaultSchool.aspx

It seems like I learn things about the Army every day. If there are things that you have questions about or you would love to see a post about, just let me know! I am by no means an expert at all things Army, but I love exploring new topics and sharing what I see as a military spouse.

I am starting a list of topics, so any ideas are welcome!

Hope you enjoyed today’s Armucation.

8 thoughts on “Armucation: Airborne vs. Air Assault

  1. I just stumbled upon your blog and thought I’d say hi! I’m also an army wife, and we are currently stationed at Fort Bliss. This is our first duty station together, but when my husband was in the service before, Fort Campbell was one the places he lived! He was also airborne, and he just recently explained the difference between the two a few weeks ago to me- ironic! I look forward to reading more of your blog. It’s always nice to find fellow military wives in this community šŸ™‚ Have a great day!

  2. I think it’s fun that at the Ft. Campbell gates they say “Air Assault” after checking your ID. Our in-laws are there and our nephew, who’s five, likes to repeat “Air Assault!” back to them. My brother-in-law also explained the significance of the signs/flags some people who live on base there have outside there homes and I thought those were pretty cool too.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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