DoD

May 1, 2014

Building relationships through Exercise ANGEL THUNDER

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Staff Sgt. Heather Redman
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Moore)
Air Force Airmen from the 355th Medical Group wait to load a victim of a simulated aircraft crash during Angel Thunder at Davis-Monthan last year. Angel Thunder provides personnel recovery and combat search and rescue training for combat aircrews, pararescuemen, intelligence personnel, battle managers and joint search and rescue center personnel. This year’s exercise will occur from May 4-17 throughout Arizona and off the coast of California. 

The largest personnel recovery exercise in the world helps foster international relationships by combining joint, coalition, and interagency partners.

Exercise ANGEL THUNDER is an annual exercise that supports the DoD’s training requirements for personnel recovery, but also helps in building trust and relationships between joint, interagency, and coalition partners. This year’s exercise will occur from May 4-17 throughout Arizona and off the coast of California.

Exercise ANGEL THUNDER provides opportunities for Air Combat Command, along with all participants, to showcase not just personnel recovery, but also joint force integration and interagency participation.

“Personnel recovery missions are often short term operations because they are a response to a crisis situation,” said Col. Sean Choquette, Commander of the 563rd Rescue Group. “By conducting Exercises like ANGEL THUNDER, we are working to build up relationships ahead of time and to establish standard operating procedures so it’s easier to execute the mission than if the relationship did not exist and you have to build trust along the way.”

Exercise ANGEL THUNDER allows Air Forces to practice effective integration as well as the application of air and space power in the search and rescue missions.

“Through the exchange of tactics, techniques, and procedures, we are able to learn from one another,” said Choquette. “This helps us to standardize across the board so we are operating with similar techniques and capabilities with the partners that we have.”

This year’s participants in Exercise ANGEL THUNDER include members from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. federal agencies, Arizona state and local agencies, national volunteer organizations, as well as participants from Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Sweden.

“Integration with other forces, sharing information, and building relationships is the key piece to the success of the exercise,” added Choquette. “It’s not about how each of the different forces execute a recovery operation; it’s about integrating multiple units and operating together to complete a mission successfully. This type of early integration will pay us back exponentially when we need to operate together.”

Exercise ANGEL THUNDER has been designed to facilitate interoperability and the cross-culture sharing of tactics and procedures replicating the full spectrum of operational environments common to all personnel recovery forces. It allows participants to train together by integrating their set objectives to meet their needs while conducting the planning and execution of the exercise themselves and finally, and most important sharing the common lessons learned.

The focus of Exercise ANGEL THUNDER is maintaining the core competency of rescue forces’ high-end proficiency. Developing the command and control of adaptable capabilities under the four core functions of preparing, planning, execution, and adaptation, is a critical aspect of the exercise. ANGEL THUNDER also reinforces the five phases of personnel recovery; report, locate, support, recover, and reintegrate, through exercising the full spectrum of personnel recovery operations.




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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