Advanced Tactical Infiltration Course sharpens freefall techniques

Military freefall is as relevant as ever in operational environments where roads are littered with IEDs, and extensive early-warning networks update the bad guys on troop movements.

“We like to be able to knock on an enemy’s back door without them knowing we’re in their yard,” Sprouse said. “Military freefall offers a way to discreetly infiltrate into an enemy’s territory.”

There’s a progression to working your way through all military freefall courses, and at the end of that progression is the Advanced Tactical Infiltration Course, which is only available to those servicemembers who have conducted at least 100 military freefall jumps, and served as a freefall jumpmaster for at least a year.


“This course is the tactical side of freefall infiltration,” Norris said. “Everything is combat equipment, body armor and night-vision.”

Students attending the course spend two weeks conducting high-altitude, high-opening jumps as teams over unfamiliar parts of the Arizona desert ― not the same old drop zones they’ve navigated before in the parachutist course.

Throughout approximately 19 freefall jumps, these students will learn the latest techniques in conducting computer-guided and compass-driven navigation, rigging non-standard combat equipment, grouping and navigating toward unmarked drop zones, and rigging and deploying GPS-guided precision bundles. During the day and night.

“[Students] become subject-matter experts, so they can go back and train their detachment on tactical infiltration the way it should be done on the battlefield in the future,” Norris said.

The freefall school is always trying to push the envelope and meet the operational force’s requests for updated and advanced tactics and techniques. Between classes, the ATIC cadre members research new procedures and equipment.

“We put guys who have actually jumped into combat as cadre in ATIC,” Sprouse said. “We put retired Marines in the cadre, Army Rangers, Special Forces, all bringing their own experience from the force back to that course and making it better.”

The course will continue to grow and develop; cadre members are looking at incorporating rough-terrain landings in the future.

“I haven’t seen one guy who’s been through ATIC and said he could’ve done that at home,” Sprouse said. “Every guy says it’s a great course.”