Preparing the thunder

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — A new detachment here will aim to boost personnel recovery readiness across the military.

Detachment 1 of the 414th Combat Training Squadron, out of Nellis AFB, Nevada, was activated today.

The new detachment’s mission is to increase readiness by conducting exercises meant to train personnel recovery forces. Using an application of joint service, multinational, interagency combat search and rescue exercises the team will focus on training personnel recovery though a simulated environment and real world scenarios.

“We train at the tactical spectrum and the operational level for personnel recovery,” said Maj. James M. Humphrey, detachment 1, 414th CTS director of operations. “At the tactical level we have the PJs in the helicopters, HC-130s, ground teams and other assets from our partner services. At the operation level it’s coordinating and planning.”

The team at Detachment 1 consists of experienced and diverse exercise management professionals. Their knowledge extends over specialties such as survival, evasion, resistance and escape, aircraft maintenance, and logistics.

“They can walk away after being exposed to highly dynamic and challenging scenarios and learning those lessons so they don’t have to learn them in combat,” Humphrey said.  “At the end of the day we want people to learn lessons here in an environment we can control while exposing them to things that can hopefully improve the execution of a real-world mission.”

They will plan one of the Air Force’s significant training events, Angel Thunder, a Joint National Training Capability accredited and certified exercise. Angel Thunder allows the HC-130J Combat King and the HH-60G Pave Hawk to come together with pararescuemen, combat rescue officers and SERE specialists, to practice real world personnel recovery.

“The guys out there fighting the fight know that we’re not going to leave them out there,” said Humphrey. “It gives them the courage to get out the door, accomplish the mission and know they won’t be left behind.”

Participants will leave the exercise with a better understanding of finding innovative, unconventional approaches to enhance the Air Force’s established PR capabilities.

“I think they are going to walk away with an experience they never had, working with assets that aren’t normally available,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Cunningham, Detachment 1, 414th CTS commander. “They get the chance to work with international partners who have had different rescue experiences in different environments.”

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