Air Force

August 10, 2012

PJs train for overseas operations

Tags:
Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn
355th Fighter Wing Public Affair
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn)
HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters filled with para-rescuemen begin their landing during a com-bat search and rescue training mission on July 25 at Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field, Ariz.

From the Craycroft gate on D-M, it’s approximately 138 miles to our destination at Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field for the July 25 combat search and rescue training mission for pararescuemen from multiple rescue squadrons and rescue groups on D-M.

As we arrive at Gila Bend and take the dirt road to our final destination, we’re forced to stop. Up ahead in the distance, aircraft are practicing bombing runs. We sit and watch the dirt-filled mushroom clouds and wait for the explosions and the trembling shockwave that follows shortly after. We’re finally given the green light to continue on.

The training mission calls for an aircraft to be shot down. Two survivors need to be evacuated from hostile territory. To make matters worse, they both have injuries. One survivor has an injured elbow, while the other has a broken ankle and femur.

Opposing forces were also present during the scenario to add another layer of realism.

“These missions, which are held monthly, are as accurate as we can get to the missions performed overseas,” said Staff Sgt. Andy Pena, 563rd Operational Support Squadron aerial gunner. “Of course, there are going to be limitations to what we can do. We have to adhere to things like range time and air space. But overall, they’re very true to life.”

 

U.S. Air Force pararescuemen work diligently as they tend to the simulated injuries of the two survivors during a combat search and rescue training mission on July 25 at Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field, Ariz.

 
When it comes to rescuing military members from combat zones, minutes and seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Pararescuemen need to be in the air as quickly as possible.

“For personnel recovery, we can be out the door and ready to go in seven minutes,” said Capt. John Sutter*, combat rescue officer. “For something like the retrieval of equipment, we can take more time and plan things out better.”

During a rescue mission, anything can happen. If PJs get into a firefight and are running low on ammunition, they’re going to need to get more in a hurry.

“To help us with our missions, we can use premade packs that can have everything from medical supplies to ammunition,” Sutter* said. “Each one has a designator from alpha to echo, and we can call them in when we’re on an operation if the need arises. These options are great because you can never plan a mission to 100 percent.”

When we reached our final destination, we split into two groups, the OPFOR formed one group; while the survivors, an independent duty medical technician, and a survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist who were tasked with evaluating the pararescuemen are in another.

While the group of survivors scouts out an adequate spot for the extraction, the OPFOR ready their blank-filled M4s and visiting Air Force Academy cadets get rubber dummy M4s and a rubber rocket propelled grenade launcher.

We break off into our respective groups and sat and sit and wait.

After a little while, one of the satellite phones we have beeps to life. We received a new message asking about the number of OPFOR and the weapons they have. One of the survivors sends a reply and the radio goes silent.

The distant thump from the HH-60 Pave Hawk rotor blades breaks the stillness. Two helicopters appear from behind the mountains. As they fly closer, the SERE specialist deploys a smoke canister, signaling the PJs onboard of the survivor’s position.

Before landing, the Pave Hawks fly overhead in an oval shape pattern. They’re scanning for targets. In this pattern, they can continuously fire on incoming threats. An enemy vehicle is spotted and dealt with swiftly.

The Pave Hawks land and the PJs rush out with their rifles raised to assess the condition of the wounded and begin medical care. As they do, they’re exposed. Three of their team-mates provide constant watch of the surroundings, ready to engage the opposition.

With the Tucson sun fading fast over Gila Bend and our allowed time on the range quickly coming to a close, the PJs load the injured onto the helicopters and extract them to safety.

Although it was a successful mission, there was room for improvement. Tactics or procedures they could have been better with or done differently will be brought up in the debriefing. But this is why they have these training missions every month. It helps everyone become more proficient at their job, so when a real-world mission arises, it will go off without a hitch.

*Some of the names of those in-volved have been changed.

Three cadets from the Air Force Academy pose for a picture with their dummy rubber weapons during a combat search and rescue training mission on July 25 at Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field, Ariz. The cadets were part of the opposing force group.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Air Force Enlisted Village: Not just a place to live, a place to call home

I first visited the Air Force Enlisted Village as a young first sergeant in 2009, when I was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. I went to visit with the Tyndall Active Airmen’s Association, Tyndall’s E-1 to E-4 Professional Association, and was amazed at what I saw. This was also the first time I...
 
 

Enlisted evaluation and promotion systems implementation timeline

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — In July, the chief of staff and chief master sergeant of the Air Force announced a series of incremental changes to the Enlisted Evaluation and Weighted Airman Promotion Systems scheduled for implementation from August 2014 through January 2017. The evaluation and promotion systems changes are slated for implementation in a phased manner...
 
 
AFBirthday

67 plus years of airpower

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNS) — What does the Air Force want for its 67th birthday; new state of the art fighter jets, more unmanned aircraft, new maintenance facilities or how about additional satellites to launch in...
 

 

Tuition assistance program changes Oct. 1

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Effective Oct. 1, new changes will go into effect that impact the Air Force Tuition Assistance Program. Personnel using the TA program will now be required to pass all undergraduate courses with a grade of “C” or higher. A grade of “D” will be considered a failing grade and...
 
 

Air Force revamps AEF

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force will deploy Agile Combat Support Airmen under its redesigned air expeditionary force construct October 1. The primary purpose of the redesign was to look at ways to deploy more ACS Airmen with their units and standardize dwell times across the Air Force as much as possible to present a...
 
 

Air Force reveals newest recruiting campaign

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas  — The U.S. Air Force is bringing back its “Aim High” advertising slogan after a 15-year hiatus with the launch of the “I am an American Airman” recruiting campaign today. The integrated campaign, created by the Air Force’s advertising agency, GSD&M, includes three commercial spots as well as new video...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin