Air Assault Badge

Air Assault Badge
Awarded by United States Army
Type Badge
Awarded for Air Assault training course
Status Currently awarded
Established 1974
Last awarded Ongoing
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. The course includes three phases of instruction involving U.S. Army rotary wing aircraft: combat air assault operations; rigging and slingloading operations; and rappelling from a helicopter.

According to the United States 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

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.

A III Corps Air Assault School was announced for Fort Hood that was to start in June 2012.[8] The first class of the XVIII Airborne Corps Air Assault School at Fort Bragg, NC graduated on October 4, 2013[9]

Air assault training has also been conducted for varying durations of time at other locations, although most do not currently do so (2013):

Wearing of the badge

The wearing of the Air Assault Badge on Army uniforms is governed by AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms.[31]

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.[32]


Maj. Jack R. Rickman is credited with the design of the Air Assault Badge when he was in 1971 on tour with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He thought little of the outcome of the design assignment, given to him by a division operations officer, which the Army adopted officially in January 1978. He was made aware of his part in the badge design years later when he recognized his design work seen in a published photograph. He never earned a badge himself.[33]

The design was influenced by the Parachutist Badge[34] worn when the division was on jump status, as well as the Glider Badge[35] 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." The glider wing played an integral part of WWII, being a strong symbolic gesture to the pilots given permission to wear this badge.[36]

The 101st returned from Vietnam to Fort Campbell, Kentucky and the 173rd Airborne Brigade was inactivated with its assets transferred to form the division's 3rd Brigade, at the time 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 wearing of the Airmobile Badge effective 1 April 1974, the same date that the 3rd Brigade would terminate its jump status.

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

Background trimmings

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

When the 101st Airborne Division was converted to air assault, it adopted the wear of the cloth background trimming (ovals) that are used to identify active airborne units --that is worn behind the U.S. Army's Parachutist Badge-- vise those who have earn their Parachutist Badge but are not assigned to an active airborne unit. 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 Badge or Air Assault Badge."[31] The following are the wing trimmings worn by the qualified members of air assault units but do not include all trimmings that are authorized to be found on the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry (TIOH) website:

101st Airborne Division:

Army National Guard air assault units

Trimmings have been denied by the Institute of Heraldry to units in the Army National Guard, such as the California ARNG's 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment[37] although they have the parenthetical designation “Air Assault”.

As late as 2004: “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.”[38]

Original badge

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, and 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).[39] 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.[40][41]

On 30 June 1965, the colors of the 11th Air Assault Division were deactivated 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

All of the military services can and do send personnel to the U.S. Army's Air Assault School, but only the Air Force allows for the Air Assault Badge to be worn on the uniform. For several decades only USAF personnel attached to the 101st Airborne Division were allowed to wear the badge, and only at that duty assignment, paralleling US Army policy from 1974 to 1978 for Army soldiers; however, as of the 17 January 2014 update to AFI36-2903 (USAF uniform regulations), U.S. Air Force personnel are authorized to wear the Air Assault Badge along with other special skill badges they have earned through the other Uniformed Services. This means that only the Army and the Air Force authorize their personnel to wear the Air Assault Badge on their uniforms upon graduation of the Air Assault Course.[42][43][44][45]

Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard wear

The Army's Air Assault Badge is not authorized for wear on uniforms of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, or U.S. Coast Guard.[46][47][48]


  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 Archived October 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. TIOH page
  3. "Department Of The Army". 1974-02-01. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  4. John Pike. "101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  5. Kendra Helmer. "Air assault students don't let studies slip - News". Stripes. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  6. 1 2 "Warrior Training Center's Air Assault Course prepares students for combat operations | Article | The United States Army". 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  7. "ATRRS Course Catalog". 2003-12-10. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  8. "Air Assault completes validation, set for opening in June - News". Fort Hood Sentinel. 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  9. "Fort Bragg graduates first air assault school class". Paraglide. 2013-10-10. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  10. "Army training, sir! | Article | The United States Army". 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  11. "National Guard News - Missouri Guard holds its first air assault course". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  12. Marks, Jay F. (2006-04-07). "Obstacle course returns to Camp Gruber". News OK. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  13. "DVIDS - News - Air Assault Course increase 2ID capabilities". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  14. "Air Assault in Germany". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  15. "Air Assault! Separating weak from strong | Article | The United States Army". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  16. "Students attend first Air Assault School held in Europe in 5 years | Article | The United States Army". 2010-05-07. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  17. "Warrior Training Center produces tough Guard Soldiers | Article | The United States Army". 2011-04-01. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  18. Fort Bliss MONITOR. "'Air assault!': 191 servicemembers earn their wings | Fort Bliss Monitor". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  19. "Soldiers learn essential combat skills during Air Assault School | Article | The United States Army". 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  20. "Fort Drum community recognizes Air Assault School graduates | Article | The United States Army". 2011-06-30. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  21. "Air Assault Course comes to Fort Hood - News". Fort Hood Sentinel. 2011-10-27. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  22. "Soldiers complete first cycle of new Fort Hood Air Assault Course | Article | The United States Army". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  23. "Fort Hood air assault training starts Saturday - News". Fort Hood Sentinel. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  24. "Fort Hood Soldiers, Airmen earn their wings - News". Fort Hood Sentinel. 2012-07-05. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  25. Archived August 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. "Fort Riley hosts Air Assault training | Article | The United States Army". 2009-09-23. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  27. "Air Assault in Germany - Topic". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  28. Kakesako, Gregg K. (2005-12-18). " | News | /2005/12/18/". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  29. haw (2010-11-19). "84th Eng. Bn. helps bring Air Assault Course back to Hawaii". Hawaii Army Weekly. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  30. "CAB Soldiers assault through air assault course | Article | The United States Army". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  31. 1 2 Army Regulation 670-1: Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia Archived October 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine..
  32. "History". 2006-03-16. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  33. Army Times, 16 March 1981.
  34. "U.S. Army Badges > Parachutists Badges". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  35. "U.S. Army Badges > Glider Badge". 1944-06-02. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  36. "Post Vietnam - Air Assualt [sic] Badge". 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2015-05-22.
  37. John Pike. "1-184th Infantry (Air Assault)". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  38. 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.
  39. "Original Air Assault Badge". 1963-02-15. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  40. "HQ's Captain's page". 1963-02-15. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  41. "Vietnam Helicopter insignia and artifacts - Air Assault". Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  42. U.S. Air Force Instruction 36-2903: Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, Secretary of the Air Force, dated 17 January 2014, last accessed 20 June 2014
  43. AF uniform policy update: welcome back morale t-shirts, badges and limitless athletic shoes, U.S. Air Force News, dated 20 January 2014, last accessed 20 June 2014
  44. Airmen Vie for Slots in Army Air Assault Course, U.S. Air Force Official Website, dated 7 February 2011, last accessed 20 June 2014
  45. Official USAF Photo of Maj. Creel at Distinguished Flying Cross award ceremony wearing an Air Assault Badge on his USAF Service Dress Uniform Archived January 12, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., U.S. Air Force Official Website, posted: 18 May 2012, last accessed 11 January 2014
  46. Navy Uniform Regulations, Chapter 5, updated 24 March 2011, last accessed 3 August 2013
  47. Marine Corps Uniform Regulation P1020.34, Chapter 4 Archived October 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., updated 29 October 2009, last accessed 3 August 2013
  48. Coast Guard Uniform Regulation, M1020.6G, updated March 2012, last accessed 3 August 2013

External links

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