by Hugh Jashol
It’s official: in a record-setting first, the halftime entertainment for Super Bowl 50 is… the US Army???
After last-minute authorization from the Secretary of Defense, the 75th Ranger Regiment has officially been given the green light to conduct a “mass tactical” airfield seizure demonstration during the halftime show.
Adding to the excitement, as part of a public-relations outreach program the entire Carolina Panthers cheerleading squad is set to participate in the first-ever deliberate mass static line “tandem jump” with a platoon from Bravo Company.
While the Rangers are overjoyed at the prospect of landing an entire Regiment of 10,000 paratroopers in a constrained urban landing zone of 110m x 50m in front of millions of worldwide viewers, it almost didn’t happen.
“I have to admit, it was a little daunting at first,” said Captain Dax Hamilton, a 2003 graduate of Mercer University‘s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program and former captain of their award-winning football team. “I mean look, the risk assessment alone was over 1100 pages. But we just got this new (signal corps lieutenant) in, and it turns out that the Officers’ Basic Courses these days are really, really good at churning out officers who are highly competent at blowing through mindless paperwork. He got it done in record time!”
Even with all of the mitigation, which includes numerous pre-game day rehearsals and the consumption of copious amounts of nerve-calming alcohol immediately before the drop (generously donated by perennial Super Bowl favorite Budweiser), questions remain about both the wisdom of the idea in general, and the safety of its participants. Captain Hamilton insists it’s a brilliant idea, and totally safe. “The Air Force and the Navy always get to do the flyover, and the Marines dominate the Super Bowl advertisements with their ads where they slay dragons or whatever. For Superbowl 50 the Army needed something. Something big. Something that the people will remember. No one forgets their first mass tac.”
And about safety? “Well, I mean it’s still more dangerous than the 173rd’s “combat jump” in Iraq in 2003,” he conceded, ensuring to emphasize the air quotes around the words “combat jump.” “We’ll just have them all wear reflective belts, that’s pretty much the Army’s solution for everything anyway.”
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A”mass tac” airborne operation over an urban area that includes a football stadium is always a complete disaster… except in the opening scenes of Red Dawn. God I loved that movie.