MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, conducted fast-rope and rappel training during a two and a half week Helicopter Rope Suspension Technique course aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 11 – 27, 2014.
Marines going through the course learned techniques necessary to become HRST masters. They learned the skill required to fast-rope and methods of rappelling. The Marines also learned how to tie various knots to ensure safety during operations.
Marines need to be able to go back to their units and be prepared to use these techniques as well as teach others the fundamentals of what they learned, said Sgt. Adam Powell, HRST Course chief instructor for Special Operations Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
“The course can be very difficult for some Marines with the amount of information thrown at them in only 13 training days,” said Powell. “Marines can have problems tying the different types of knots, and could be afraid of heights or being in a helicopter.”
The first week of training consisted of classroom instruction and hands-on training with the equipment.
The following week Marines applied the knowledge from the classroom. They had to prove to the instructors that they retained the information and could apply it on a 30 foot training tower, said Powell.
“We want students to leave here with a solid understanding of HRST mastering,” said Staff Sgt. Alan Merritt, from Horn Lake, Miss., and a HRST instructor at SOTG. “When they go back to their units, they will be responsible for putting people down lines and towers safely.”
Students must be able to fast-rope quickly and safely as a team, ensuring everyone in the team performs the appropriate measures for getting all Marines down the rope.
“When the students return to their shop, they will be showing their officers and NCOs how to fast rope,” said Merritt. “So their Marines’ lives will be the HRST masters' responsibility.”
Some techniques learned while on the rope are stopping mid-descent, maintaining the rope after reaching the bottom, using correct form to ensure safety and working as a team.
Once the students have shown proficiency in fast-roping and rappelling from a tower, they move to developing their skills in conjunction with rotary-wing aircraft.
“I’d like to see an increase in not only students coming through the course, but also the use of the HRST mastery in the fleet,” said Merritt. “HRST mastering is a very quick and easy way to get Marines inserted safely without the helicopter ever hitting the deck.”
Merritt believes that since the Marine Corps is returning to its amphibious roots, more units should focus on HRST training. This enables Marines to be inserted into a variety of combat environments and remain the United States’ force in readiness.