Top 10 Military Specialty Schools In The United States


Top 10 Military Specialty Schools In The United States
Photo credit: The National Guard / Flickr

With the War On Terror entering its second decade, the military forces of the United States continues to operate at a high tempo. A salient factor of U.S. military forces has always been the high level of training that its members receive.

It is this training that is the focus of this list. Military personnel are tasked with performing dangerous missions that require not just bravery, but a high degree of skill to accomplish.

As a result, the men and women who undertake these perilous missions subject themselves to some of the toughest, and most intensive training imaginable. Tasked with testing and molding the physical, mental and emotional aspects of every trainee, these military schools represent the upper echelon of military training.

10. Pathfinder School

Mission: Army pathfinders have the all-too-important mission of insuring that airborne assault troops reach their proper landing/drop zones. Pathfinders are the soldiers that are inserted into a designated drop zone ahead of the main assault force (up to 72 hours prior) for the purpose of marking the drop zone, initial area security, landing and drop zone surveys, etc.

These soldiers are capable of calling in air strikes for targets of opportunity, and are expected to coordinate most phases involved with LZ/DZ operations (coordinate aircraft drops/movement, weather forecast, sling load ops, etc.). Operating in four-man teams, they operate alone behind enemy lines until the arrival of the main assault force.

Training: The U.S. Army’s Pathfinder School is a three-week course that is conducted at Fort Benning, Georgia. In order to attend, a soldier has to be assigned to (or en route to) a billeting slot that requires pathfinding skills, be physically qualified to participate in airborne operations, and have a GT (aptitude) score of 110 or higher. The course aims to instruct soldiers:

“How to navigate dismounted, establish and operate a day / night helicopter landing zone, establish and operate day / night parachute drop zones (DZs), including Computed Air Release System (CARP) DZs, Ground Marked Release System (GMRS) DZs and Army Verbally Initiated Release System (VIRS) DZs, conduct sling load operations, provide air traffic control (ATC) and navigational assistance to rotary wing (RW) and fixed wing (FW) airborne operations.”

Over the course of the three weeks, students will essentially learn every facet necessary to carry out a successful air assault into a specific point. While the course is not necessarily physically intensive, it is academically so, as students are required to absorb an incredible amount of information.

Students will undertake their curriculum in both classroom and field environments (quite a bit of field time). Upon successful completion of the curriculum, soldiers are awarded the prestigious Pathfinder Badge, and are qualified to be assigned to one of the three pathfinder formations in the US Army.

Related article: Top 10 Military Schools In America


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