OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Team Osan hosted a joint-branch training event focusing on combat search and rescue training (CSART) techniques.
The practical elements of recovering personnel in austere locations in the CSART training brought together joint service members and mission partners.
The U.S. Army’s 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade brought the 4-2 Attack Battalion, 3-2 General Support Aviation Battalion to provide unmanned aircraft system expertise as vital components of the training event. Additionally, the 2CAB joined their 7th Air Force counterparts during the live-flight portion of the training that took place across the Korean peninsula.
“These joint training events give us the opportunity to normalize integrative interoperability across echelons to enhance our collective readiness to ‘Fight Tonight’”, said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gary Magallanes, 2CAB Unmanned Aircraft System expertise operations officer.
Before aircraft can fly to recover personnel, pilots need to know the location of the party in need of rescue, the strength of hostile forces and the region’s topography. The Joint Personnel Recovery Center (JPRC) is responsible for providing this critical information to ensure pilots are aware of the sort of conditions they will be flying into. The JPRC ensures accurate, up-to-date information by directly communicating to mission personnel via satellite radio.
“We have the ability to securely communicate to the survivor on a handheld radio via satellite,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Damien “Frito” Le, 607th Air Operations Center JPRC director. “It allows for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape managers to direct the survivor real-time on how to stay alive, move to a safe location and wait for rescue.”
With a large amount of information being passed through multiple branches, it can be difficult to determine who has a need-to-know. That’s where the 621st Air Control Squadron’s Cobra Team steps in, delivering command and control information to appropriate parties. They are responsible not only for passing information up, down and across the chain of command, but also to and from the isolated personnel and pilots out in the field.
“We are a lynchpin of communication that helps ensure everyone involved in the operation has the most up-to-date and mission-essential information,” said Senior Airman Dylan “Smeagol” Byrum, 621st ACS weapons director. “If we miss information meant for the AOC and don't pass that on or pass the incorrect data to the rescue mission commander, it could end in mission. failure.”
Once the CSAR mission has been properly analyzed and approved, the next step to successfully recovering survivors is to defend the area of operations for as long as possible to enable enough time for pilots to search for and recover survivors.
“We are there to protect our assets while A-10s and rescue vehicles do their personnel recovery mission,” said Capt. John Chapman, U.S. Air Force 35th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot.
While the 35th FS escorts rescue aircraft, the 909th Air Refueling Squadron keeps everyone in the air to continue the search. The 909th’s Stratotanker also provides communications support by acting as a signal receiver that transmits communications back and forth between low flying aircraft conducting CSAR operations, which reduces ground interference.
“We are a force multiplier,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Shelby Clark, 909th ARS KC-135 Stratotanker co-pilot. “We help assets stay up in the air longer to continue the mission.”
Conducting large-scale training events like CSART requires base support to sustain all players.
The 51st Logistic Readiness Squadron’s reception working group is tasked with coordinating support for inbound units in the form of lodging, food, etc. and approving their visitation requests. COVID-19 created even more hurdles for their team to overcome by adding COVID-19 related support from the 51st Medical Group and COVID Command Center when processing inbound units.
“A lot of things have changed especially with quarantine,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nyisha Glenn, 51st LRS logistics planner. “Before we didn’t have to figure out where an individual was going to lodge, because it was just Turumi Lodge, but now the RWG has gotten with different agencies to figure out where the members are going to quarantine and reside after.”
CSART is vital should troops find themselves behind enemy lines. The training prepares squadrons and battalions whose missions are emergency response focused, an opportunity to exercise tactics with low-risk scenarios. It also affords support personnel an opportunity to provide for large scale missions like CSART. If a real-world activity occurs, CSART teams are trained to respond at a moment’s notice and fight tonight.