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.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force illustration/Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony)

AF begins testing phase for women in combat roles

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — In April 2015, the Air Force will begin conducting the physical evaluations required to explore opening the last six career fields currently closed to women. When the law prohibiting women in ground co...
 
 
DoD

New tuition assistance tool attuned to troops’ educational needs

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department continues to invest in its service members and has introduced a new online informational tool tailored to their unique school programs and educational needs, the Defense Department’s chief of voluntary education said in a DoD news interview this week. Dawn Bilodeau discussed a new online tool called “Tuition Assistance DECIDE.”...
 
 

D-M Airmen freefall into the blue

BUCKEYE, Ariz. — You’re standing in an open door of an aircraft soaring 12,000 feet above the ground. You have put your full trust into the person strapped to your back, who you’ve known for less than two hours, to bring you back down to Earth safe and sound. The count begins. “Out…in…out.” The floor of the...
 

 

Enlisted members selected for promotion to get EPR on “select” grade closeout date

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — In line with a recent update to the Air Force policy on enlisted performance report static closeout dates (SCOD), effective immediately, all future EPRs for promotion-selectees will close out on the date of the promotion-select grade. At the direction of Headquarters Air Force, Airmen promoted to technical sergeant...
 
 
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Lacey Roberts)

First Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event a success

The 162nd Wing’s Air Wing Integrator hosted her first Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event on April 10 at the Hilton Garden Inn Tucson International Airport. Christina Desiato began working here last September with a pur...
 
 

Make time to mentor your Airmen

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, AZ — The Air Force is comprised of Airmen with many skills and talents. The backbone to our continued success is our men and women who strive to be excellent on a daily basis. However, there are times when our focus is derailed by our own personal and professional guidelines. I was taught...
 




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