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Old 19 June 2011, 22:00
blkxero blkxero is offline
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Pathfinder

I apologize ahead of time if this is in the wrong place. But I was curious to find out more about the Pathfinder course. I read a book a while ago entitled "Pathfinder" and after arguing with a buddy of mine about this exact topic, I was unsure if Pathfinder was basically a LRRP/Ranger, or if Pathfinder was a completely different job with different duties and such. Thanks for the information in advance fellas. I'll get out of your hair now.
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Old 19 June 2011, 22:24
Ranger1 Ranger1 is offline
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Pathfinder is a totally different job than your average Ranger, although Regiment has a quite a few Pathfinder qualified guys, and Regiment can easily do Pathfinder missions. Your average Ranger also doesn't do LRS although there are dedicated sections of Regiment that are assigned LRS type training and missions. That's all the detail we can go into here on the 75th.

There are dedicated non-SOF Pathfinder units that were formed from LRS units with the 101st and 82nd so they have quite a bit of skills/training/mission crossover. They still do a ton of LRS type training. There used to be a small dedicated Pathfinder unit at Rucker years ago but they got disbanded (509th?)

It makes perfect sense for the guys in LRS units to get tasked with Pathfinder missions. They're already out there with eyes on the ground and can set up DZs and LZs without having to also send in a dedicated Pathfinder unit.

So neither you or your buddy are 100% wrong. Pathfinder is a critical skill set, a mentally tough school, and most combat units have Pathfinder ability to one degree or another. All depends on how many Torches are floating around in a particular unit and how much organized practice they get.

There's tons of open source stuff on Pathfinder School, you just have to Google it. Here, have a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vwngz5CN7Vs

I don't feel like I explained that very well, but there it is.

Last edited by Ranger1; 20 June 2011 at 00:38.
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Old 19 June 2011, 23:22
blkxero blkxero is offline
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Explained it well enough for me. And I thank you for the video as well good sir.
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Old 20 June 2011, 06:09
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Kirk, you forgot to mention that the "Flaming Piss Pot" is the coolest looking badge out there!

Just a bit a trivia, the former Chaplain (CPT. Harwich (spelling ?), of 2/75 RGR 86-88 had previously spent 4 years enlisted in a Pathfinder unit in the 101st, where he was also sent to Ranger School. Then after his 4 year enlistment, got out, went to College and Seminary and then straight to ROP and 2/75.

Also IIRC, CSM Leon Guerrero started out his US Army days in a Pathfinder unit in Vietnam. (also 101st IIRC).
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Old 20 June 2011, 08:00
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RGR.Montcalm RGR.Montcalm is offline
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A little more info- Kirk has it basically right- Pathfinders work almost exclusively with Aviation units - in fact they are the only Infantry coded unit assigned to Aviation BDES.

Their primary mission is setting up landing zones, pick up zones, and providing tactical ait traffic control into and out of tactical LZs and PZs. They can flex to do Personnel recoivery and downed aviator recovery. In addition, Pathfinders provide expert guidance to Commanders doing slingload operations, inspecting sling loads and configuring 'non-standard' loads. if you want it moved by helicopter and it doesn't have rigging instructions, call the Pathfinders.

A mentally tough school, Pathfinder has approximately a 50% failure rate- not due to PT but due to a lack of attention to detail. It has always been a 'gentlemen's course'- PT on your own and study time on your own; students that spend too much time partying and not enough studying find themselves on the way home without the coverted Torch.


During the field trianing phase, students rotate through a variety of positions to set LZs/DZs and Drop Zones. Jumpmaster qualified Pathfinders can operate personnel drop zones and non jumpmaster qualified Pathfinders can operate heavy drop or cargo drop zones.

On the other hand, Rangers train to go places by land sea or air and kill people...
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Old 20 June 2011, 09:29
Ranger1 Ranger1 is offline
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Sgt. Major, do you know what the Pathfinder Company that got deactivated at Rucker was? They were active when I did AASLT there in 87 and I had a buddy that I went to OSUT with that I bumped into there. He was graduating AASLT as I was in processing. Almost positive it was the 509th (I can almost see the beret flash/crest).

Both were on the same road as the WOC school across from the PT field and big LZ. Their HQ was this one level brick building and the WOC school was still in old Harmony Church style buildings.

Last edited by Ranger1; 20 June 2011 at 09:32.
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Old 20 June 2011, 10:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk View Post
Sgt. Major, do you know what the Pathfinder Company that got deactivated at Rucker was? They were active when I did AASLT there in 87 and I had a buddy that I went to OSUT with that I bumped into there. He was graduating AASLT as I was in processing. Almost positive it was the 509th (I can almost see the beret flash/crest).

Both were on the same road as the WOC school across from the PT field and big LZ. Their HQ was this one level brick building and the WOC school was still in old Harmony Church style buildings.
It was the 509th - then they deactivated it and then stood up 1/509 at JRTC as the OPFOR. 1/509 is now part of 1/73rd IIRC
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Old 20 June 2011, 11:12
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Got it. Cheers.
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Old 20 June 2011, 12:37
blkxero blkxero is offline
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Originally Posted by RGR.Montcalm View Post
A little more info- Kirk has it basically right- Pathfinders work almost exclusively with Aviation units - in fact they are the only Infantry coded unit assigned to Aviation BDES.

Their primary mission is setting up landing zones, pick up zones, and providing tactical ait traffic control into and out of tactical LZs and PZs. They can flex to do Personnel recoivery and downed aviator recovery. In addition, Pathfinders provide expert guidance to Commanders doing slingload operations, inspecting sling loads and configuring 'non-standard' loads. if you want it moved by helicopter and it doesn't have rigging instructions, call the Pathfinders.

A mentally tough school, Pathfinder has approximately a 50% failure rate- not due to PT but due to a lack of attention to detail. It has always been a 'gentlemen's course'- PT on your own and study time on your own; students that spend too much time partying and not enough studying find themselves on the way home without the coverted Torch.


During the field trianing phase, students rotate through a variety of positions to set LZs/DZs and Drop Zones. Jumpmaster qualified Pathfinders can operate personnel drop zones and non jumpmaster qualified Pathfinders can operate heavy drop or cargo drop zones.

On the other hand, Rangers train to go places by land sea or air and kill people...
Much thanks to you good sirs. Questions and thoughts have been answered thoroughly, again, thanks.
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Old 20 June 2011, 13:15
Brian1/75 Brian1/75 is offline
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Just out of curiosity, when would a Pathfinder unit set up a DZ over CCTs who have ATC abilities? Are ATC abilities just needed when there's an airland component to the operation?
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Old 20 June 2011, 13:32
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...I was just wondering the same thing. I'm assuming our Pathfinders would be utilized more for air assets organic to the Army -- vs. air assets from the USAF, facilitated by CCT & TACP'S??

Army pilot speak vs. USAF pilot speak...?


2%
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Old 20 June 2011, 14:47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian1/75 View Post
Just out of curiosity, when would a Pathfinder unit set up a DZ over CCTs who have ATC abilities? Are ATC abilities just needed when there's an airland component to the operation?
3 or less Air Force aircraft, pathfinders control aircraft....more Air Force aircraft CCT control aircraft. BUT...either can handle more or less....Army is always DZSO non-combat jumps....current as of about 2003
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Last edited by Ranger Manges; 20 June 2011 at 14:51.
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Old 20 June 2011, 15:01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blkxero View Post
I apologize ahead of time if this is in the wrong place. But I was curious to find out more about the Pathfinder course. I read a book a while ago entitled "Pathfinder" and after arguing with a buddy of mine about this exact topic, I was unsure if Pathfinder was basically a LRRP/Ranger, or if Pathfinder was a completely different job with different duties and such. Thanks for the information in advance fellas. I'll get out of your hair now.
I commanded 101st Pathfinders 2001-2003. TO&E was 3 Direct Support Teams, 1 per Infantry BDE and 2 General Support Teams, 1 per AVN BDE. DS Teams did more LZ/DZ Ops, GS teams did more PZ/DACO Ops. Our DS teams would work with the supported unit scouts and LRRPs for TGT/LZ/DZ recons.
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Old 20 June 2011, 20:57
82Redleg 82Redleg is offline
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It was the 509th - then they deactivated it and then stood up 1/509 at JRTC as the OPFOR. 1/509 is now part of 1/73rd IIRC
http://www.jrtc-polk.army.mil/OPFOR/history01.htm
JRTC website says that pathfinder company at FT Rucker was C/509- don't know if was always that, or became that partway through its tenure.

1-509 is still the OPFOR, 3-509 is part of 4/25, the airborne BCT in Alaska. According to the Army's kooky heraldry/historym, 1-509 has the history of A/509, while 3-509 has the history of C/509.

173d ABCTs two infantry battalions are now (since 2006) 1-503 and 2-503. Before that, 1-503 was in 2/2 in Korea and 1-508 was with 173d. Upon leaving 173, 1-508 went to 4/82 ABN. 4/25's other IN BN is 1-501, which AFAIK has been in Alaska since the end of the separat C Airborne companies.

Edited to add:
1-509 official lineage http://www.history.army.mil/html/for...509in001bn.htm

3-509 official lineage http://www.history.army.mil/html/for...509in003bn.htm

Last edited by 82Redleg; 20 June 2011 at 21:00.
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Old 25 June 2011, 08:02
Ranger1 Ranger1 is offline
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Your post
That's good history, thanks for making that effort.
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Old 6 August 2011, 03:31
Karaya1 Karaya1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Brian1/75 View Post
Just out of curiosity, when would a Pathfinder unit set up a DZ over CCTs who have ATC abilities? Are ATC abilities just needed when there's an airland component to the operation?

CCT's are the kings of in the field ATC and setting up DZ's and LZ's but
Pathfinders also have limited ATC abilities as well as the knowledge to properly mark and setup DZ's and LZ's. They can fill the role when needed and there are a lot more pathfinders than CCT's floating around.


I can attest to it being a fairly challenging course. Half of my starting class failed and i would make a conservative estimate and say a third of the guys that started were there for the 2nd time. It's a pure study on your own and attention to detail course.
I went through in 2008, and was one of the very few guys back at 1st Recon that had a torch hidden under the flap of my breast pocket.
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Old 8 August 2011, 12:55
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[QUOTE=Karaya1;1058017725]CCT's are the kings of in the field ATC and setting up DZ's and LZ's but
Pathfinders also have limited ATC abilities as well as the knowledge to properly mark and setup DZ's and LZ's. They can fill the role when needed and there are a lot more pathfinders than CCT's floating around.


QUOTE]

Don't where you got this information but as a Pathfinder qualified DZSO, I regularly did USAF airdrops with C-130s and C-141's, when there was a CCT unit next door at Elmendorf.

During the setup for a drop, ATC capabilities are coordinated, reqs confirmed, etc...

As far as marking, there is a standard, and that standard is the one everyone uses- day, night, heavy drop, etc...

The next thing you'll state is that Army Pathfinders don't know how to use a weather balloon...
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Old 8 August 2011, 15:26
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[QUOTE=RGR.Montcalm;1058018826]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karaya1 View Post
CCT's are the kings of in the field ATC and setting up DZ's and LZ's but
Pathfinders also have limited ATC abilities as well as the knowledge to properly mark and setup DZ's and LZ's. They can fill the role when needed and there are a lot more pathfinders than CCT's floating around.


QUOTE]

Don't where you got this information but as a Pathfinder qualified DZSO, I regularly did USAF airdrops with C-130s and C-141's, when there was a CCT unit next door at Elmendorf.

During the setup for a drop, ATC capabilities are coordinated, reqs confirmed, etc...

As far as marking, there is a standard, and that standard is the one everyone uses- day, night, heavy drop, etc...

The next thing you'll state is that Army Pathfinders don't know how to use a weather balloon...
A graduate of Pathfinder School can be a very dangerous individual if not properly supervised. In fact, the key to being effective is bolded above, regular utilization of the skill sets that are taught at the school.
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Old 8 August 2011, 19:24
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Originally Posted by RGR.Montcalm View Post
A mentally tough school, Pathfinder has approximately a 50% failure rate- not due to PT but due to a lack of attention to detail. It has always been a 'gentlemen's course'- PT on your own and study time on your own; students that spend too much time partying and not enough studying find themselves on the way home without the coverted Torch.
Very true words indeed!! When I went through (wow - it's been 20yrs!?!) - it was the only course that I ever sat in my room and had milk and cookies, rather than being out on the town w/ beer and brats!

DRT, TRD, DCAV!! Meters vs yards! Sling load inspections. Arrgghh!!!
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Old 8 August 2011, 21:45
Thai_Ranger Thai_Ranger is offline
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I was a Pathfinder instructor during my break from the Regiment back in the days. I didn't know why they want me to be an instructor. Let see, I retested every big tests that was in the course when I was a student there. I managed to graduate with a 70% (anything over that to me was an overkill). Years later, in order for me to instruct the course I had to go through the course as a student. Again, I boloed some tests and had to retake the tests. I eventually became an instructor at the course. What I remember most about the course as an instructor was that we either loose half of the class on the sling load test or the Drop Zone test. The failure rate was high. We were feeding the students material through a fire hose. And of course there were always arguments among the students from different arm services and MOSs' of who was responsible for what when conducting a Pathfinder mission. As the class went along, alot of it was cleared up. I'm sure these arguments still goes on today about who can do what regarding to setting up and conducting HLZs, PZs, and DZs operation.
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