The United States Army Air Assault School, officially the Sabalauski Air Assault School (TSAAS), is a FORSCOM TDA unit located at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Its primary task is training leaders and soldiers assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT), other United States Army units and United States Armed Forces service members in several courses annually. The school is named for Command Sergeant Major Walter James Sabalauski.
== Background ==
Air Assault School qualifies soldiers to conduct airmobile and air assault helicopter operations, to include aircraft orientation, slingload operations, proper rappelling techniques and fast-rope techniques. The school itself is 10 days of rigorous, fast paced training. The high standards of the school require the student to take part in a 12-mile march with rucksack in under three hours on the morning of graduation to be awarded their wings.
The original school is located at Fort Campbell, Kentucky (home of the 101st Airborne Division). There are also or have been schools at Fort Rucker, Alabama; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Fort Hood, Texas; Camp Blanding, Florida; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Drum, New York; Fort Ord, California; Fort Richardson, Alaska; Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, and West Point, New York. Instructors at the course are referred to as Air Assault Sergeants. It is open to both males and females. The school is composed of learning helicopter insertion techniques, pathfinder operations, sling load operations as well as rappelling from buildings, cliffs and helicopters. Each day begins with rigorous physical training that includes unit runs from two to five miles. Attention to detail and tedious packing lists, the contents of which you carry in a 35 pound ruck sack daily, are also the order of the day; one missing item from these lists or failing any task from any phase of the course, could cause the student to be dropped from the school immediately.
Courses offered at the Air Assault School include: Air Assault, Pathfinder, Pre-Ranger, Rappel Master and Fast Rope Insertion/Extraction (FRIES)/Special Purpose Insertion Extraction (SPIES) Master courses. TSAAS is also home to the Division's Parachute Demonstration Team.
The 101st Airborne Division, a parachute and glider-borne unit that conducted two jumps during World War II, was converted to an Airmobile unit in 1968 in Vietnam, becoming the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile). The parenthetical designation changed to Air Assault in late 1974. According to popular myth, the Airborne tab over the unit's Screaming Eagle shoulder patch remained because two of the division's units, a parachute rigger detachment and a pathfinder company, were both still on jump status. There is, however, no basis for this under AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia. According to The Institute of Heraldry, the Airborne tab is “an intrinsic part of shoulder sleeve insignia,” not a detachable insignia added if a unit is on jump status, and according to its records the unit is still designated the 101st ''Airborne'' Division. There are numerous other non-parachute units with subordinate parachute units, such as long range surveillance troops (company equivalents) within battlefield surveillance brigades, but their presence does not entitle entire brigades to wear the Airborne tab. Regarding the division’s remaining parachute units, it now has one pathfinder company in each of its two aviation brigades, but the rigger unit was separated from the division many years ago. Until late 2013, parachute rigger support was provided by the locally-assigned 4th Platoon of the Fort Bragg-based 647th Quartermaster Company. In October 2013 jump status for the two pathfinder companies was terminated, leaving no parachute positions within the division, and the rigger platoon departed from the post.
Graduation from the Air Assault School is not required to be a Soldier in the 101st, but it is looked upon as an achievement of excellence by the chain of command.
In 1998, a new tower was completed and Phase Three began to train at this site. On 17 December 1999 the new Sabalauski Air Assault School facility was dedicated and for the first time in several years all phases of instruction are conducted at one facility. Over sixty classes are run annually, training over 8,000 soldiers per year.
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