Members of the U.S., French, Australian and other coalition air forces recently participated in a joint crash response exercise at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, May 16, 2017.
The purpose of the exercise was to test how effectively different coalition service components could work together in the event of an aircraft crash.
This was the first exercise of its kind at this location, said a wing safety officer with the French air force, or l’Armée de l’air.
“It was the first time everyone [all coalition partners] participated with multiple services, including medical teams, explosive ordnance disposal and security,” said the French wing safety officer. “This permits us to improve little by little by observing the entire chain of first responders.”
Personnel from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing answered the simulated call with medical and EOD teams to multiple sites. These teams worked hand-in-hand with coalition partners to control the situation.
The exercise was mainly organized by l’Armée de l’air, said Lt. Col. David, the 380th AEW chief of safety. However, this kind of training is key for the coalition.
“This is developing relationships,” said David. “We try to deal as often as we can with coalition partners. We share the airfield, we share the mission, so we want to work as closely with them as we can.”
Staff Sgt. Brad, a team leader with the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron EOD flight, said he had not worked with French military members before. The training was a challenge, especially because of language barriers, but it was also a valuable experience for him and his Airmen.
“There’s a lot of workings that go into it, and I think practice is the main thing,” said Brad. “We train all the time so we don’t have to actually…get into that situation without knowing what to do. If it ever happens in the future, at least we have a general idea of how everything is going to happen.”
Though the final report is not yet complete, and despite a few communication shortfalls, the exercise went well overall, said David. The training opened avenues to pursue further training between coalition partners to strengthen joint capability.
“We saw a bit of the different processes between what we do, what the Americans do, and how all of it could blend together on the day of an accident,” said the French wing safety officer. “The most important thing is communication and, above all, that we train together regularly.”
Editor’s note: Names of 380th AEW and French personnel have been partially or completely removed for security purposes.