In years past, HALO jumping was done almost administratively. There was a wind arrow during the day and flares on the Drop Zone at night. Soldiers generally jumped without combat equipment, regulations sometimes mandating it. It wasn't without reason; If you've been deployed for half a year, you don't want your first jump to be in full kit, so a few "Hollywood" jumps will help troops get back into the flow of things. Still, there were valid criticisms that HALO teams were just skydiving rather than conducting true Military Free Fall operations during training. The War on Terror has shown that combat HALO jumps are not only possible, but highly practical in today's unconventional warfare setting.
I was going to keep some of the latest and greatest TTP's to myself, but than a Kit Up! reader turned me onto this Army produced video for the Military Free Fall Advanced Tactical Infiltration Course:
With free fall qualified SOF troops jumping in full kit and ready to hit the objective the moment they hit the ground, some new gear has been developed to help streamline the process. Take for instance the Ops-Core helmet above. In the past, soldiers would jump in Gentex helmets, which had no ballistic protection or tactical application, but they were all we had for mounting the lugs that fix an oxygen mask in place. Today, jumpers can fix their 02 mask right onto their combat helmet without any need for two sets of headgear.
High Altitude, High Opening (HAHO) is a technique in which jumpers breathing off oxygen jump from an aircraft somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 ft and almost immediately deploy their parachutes. In this manner, SOF teams are able to use the forward glide of their parachutes to cross long distances and infiltrate behind enemy lines in a clandestine manner. At these altitudes there is really no such thing as terrain association, necessitating the use of Navigation Boards such as the one seen above from S&S Precision.
These Nav Boards are worn by the jump master who guides his team through the clouds and down to their intended drop zone using the compass, altitude meter, and GPS system. The various types of Nav Boards made by S&S Precision can be strung into the parachute rigging so that it is in front of the jump master, or can be worked into the PALS webbing in a jumpable plate carrier.
Stay tuned and I will have more from both Ops-Core and S&S Precision for you shortly!