Department of the Army (DA) logistics interns
never know what tasks may make up their
training day. One minute they may be working at a desk, and the next minute they could be riding in a Bradley infantry fighting vehicle or jumping out of an airplane. No matter what daily tasks they undertake, they are gaining valuable hands-on experience while learning more about their customer—the Soldier.
We are DA logistics management specialist interns who were assigned to Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, as part of our on-the-job training (OJT). During our OJT, we received logistics training in supply, maintenance, and transportation. On 3 February 2010, we also participated in a tandem jump at the Military Freefall School located at Yuma Proving Ground. The Military Freefall School, part of the Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, is a joint forces facility and the premier training site for high altitude-low opening (HALO) parachuting techniques. This is where U.S. Special Operations Forces personnel go to qualify as high-altitude parachutists.
Before heading to Arizona for actual airtime, Soldiers begin classes at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In the first week, they learn how to pack a parachute, rig extra equipment, and “fly” in a vertical wind tunnel. This wind tunnel teaches them the proper body position that is needed for freefall and the basics of parachute canopy control.
Having learned the basic techniques, they head to Yuma Proving Ground for more training, which includes actual airtime. Each instructor is responsible for two students who are relatively close in body type to his own. While gravity affects everything at the same rate, different body types fall faster than others based on their weight and exposed surface area.
For Soldiers, the training culminates in the fourth week with a freefall simulating a combat mission. We observed Soldiers who had never jumped before progress to being able to jump with a group of 7 or 8 others from 12,500 feet, at night, with a weapon and combat pack. Once the Soldiers opened their parachutes, they flew in a formation and landed together—just as they would in combat.
After observing the Soldiers jump, we jumped in tandem with instructors. We used the same gear, signals, and techniques that the Soldiers normally do but in a tandem mode. Since we were up to it, the instructors made the jump a little more challenging by doing a backwards flip after they were out of the airplane.
For over a minute, we were in the freefall position, with our arms out and our legs bent up, to create an even surface against the force of the wind pushing against us. At about 6,000 feet, the tandem jumpmasters pulled the chute, and we were able to gently fall while taking in a great panoramic view of the beautiful mountains and desert landscape that make up Yuma Proving Ground.
We landed safely, and although we had been apprehensive about jumping out of an airplane, we agreed that it was the most adventurous and exciting experience we had ever had. The tandem jump gave us a closer look at and a greater appreciation for the world of Special Operations Forces.
This is just one example of a DA logistics intern’s experience. More information on the DA Logistics Intern Program is available on the Civilian Logistics Career Management Office (CLCMO) website at http://www.cascom.lee.army.mil/CLCMO/ or by contacting the CLCMO office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (309) 782–7986.