A mass tactical airborne drop is when an airborne unit jumps with full combat gear. That gear includes vehicles. Mass tacs are always something of a dicey affair. Back in 1982, gusting wind during a drop at Fort Irwin, CA, killed four paratroopers and injured over one hundred. But even when the weather isn’t trying to kill you, little things can become big things very quickly.
If idiocy or malice are involved, the usual friction, to use the term in Clausewitz’s meaning, is compounded.
Many years ago a parachute rigger at Fort Bragg thought it was fun to use nylon cord instead of twine to connect the parachute canopy apex to the deployment bag. Instead of the twine breaking and letting the jumper fall under an inflated chute, the nylon cord would not break and you’d have a paratrooper hauled through the air behind a C-130/C-141 until he could be retrieved.
In April, 2016, the 173d Airborne Brigade was doing a mass tactical drop into the Hohenfels Training Area, Germany. Enjoy the video. Warning there is NSFW language involved.
Each of those vehicles costs around a quarter million dollars, excluding what gear might be inside of them. If you pay attention you’ll see that the parachute rig doesn’t fail, the vehicles slide out of their rigging. It was through the grace of God that no one was killed. The Army has decided to charge someone as the stuckee for this disaster:
Army Sgt. John Skipper has been charged in connection with an incident last year in Germany, in which three Humvees fell out of an aircraft during a failed parachute drop.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Army Maj. Juan Martinez of the 173rd Airborne Brigade said in an official statement that Skipper had been charged in May with destruction of government property.
“Should this case progress, we will continue to release information consistent with Army policy,” Martinez said.
The charges suggest authorities believe that an equipment malfunction was not the reason the three vehicles slipped from their parachute harnesses.
As they say, “Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.”
Skipper is with 1-91 Cavalry which is the Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Targeting Acquisition (RSTA) Squadron. The parachutes were rigged by the 173d Airborne’s rigging unit, the 601st Quartermaster Company. Charging a cavalry scout with the incident means that there was evidence that the rigging was tampered with post parachute inspection. If convicted, he’s looking at 10 years in prison, forfeiture of pay and allownaces, and a dishonorable discharge.