ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
U.S. Service members completed a joint combat search and rescue exercise to practice survival, evasion, resistance and escape procedures in a controlled combat environment.
Airmen assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two-Five (HSC-25) joined forces with a joint quick response force (QRF) of Soldiers assigned to Task Force Talon (TFT) and Naval Special Warfare members on June 5 at Andersen South, Guam.
The exercise began with a simulated B-1B Lancer crash due to mechanical failure, leaving the aircrew isolated to survive and evade from simulated enemy forces in the jungle of Andersen South. Andersen South was once a housing development that is now used for urban warfare training by all military branches on Guam.
The joint QRF was called into the area to locate and move the isolated personnel from the combat zone to a designated landing zone for extraction. HSC-25 provided close air support with the use of an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter and simulated hoisting and extracting the aircrew to end the exercise.
“Combat can be pretty rough and put you in tough situations,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Hyslop, Air Force Global Strike Command Det. 4 SERE specialist. “My team set up this practice run, so we could test the aircrew’s SERE training and the joint personnel recovery teams at Andersen South.”
SERE training is given to all aircrew members early and often. Putting the on-paper tactics to use in a simulated real-world exercise can allow the military personnel to fall back on training in a life or death situation.
“We were out here for about four hours going through everything from hitting the ground to being hoisted up into the helicopter”, said Air Force Capt. Roni Yadlin, 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron pilot. “These types of situations can be very emotionally driven, so it helps to be able to revert back to prior training.”
Even with the best SERE training, the end goal of the exercise was to locate and recover isolated service members as fast and safely as possible. The joint QRF was called into the training environment to perform simulated real world tactics with opposition forces, firing blanks and closing in on their position.
“Task Force Talon was able to locate and provide security for the aircrew as the aggression forces started pouring in,” Hyslop said. “The small arms fire allowed TFT to flex and do a great job suppressing the aggressors and call in for close air support.”
The QRF was able to defeat the enemy forces by means of mounted M240 machine guns, MH-60 Seahawk provided close air support and an additional B-1B Lancer putting simulated bombs on targets called in by the QRF using a nine-line verification system that gives a detailed report of ground activity to responding units.
“HSC-25 was able to provide close air support to push back the aggressors from TFT’s position,” Hyslop said. “From there, the overhead B-1 was able to drop mock bombs on targets further away from TFT to defeat the aggressor forces.”
With the opposition defeated and retreating, the team moved the aircrew to a designated landing zone for extraction via helicopter. The aircrew were hoisted up, then returned to the ground to practice proper hoisting techniques from a helicopter.
“Having the opportunity to come out here in a joint environment is great," Yadlin said. "A lot of the aircrew is newer, so being able to work with the U.S. Army and Navy helps us train and show them what we can do."
This is the first joint CSAR event here on Guam, Hyslop said, bringing together a diverse group of people in a wide spectrum of career fields all working together. The training objectives allowed each squadron to perform tasks uncommon in a training environment.
The 9th EBS was able to perform on-site command and control duties and take control of the battlespace and work with the individual parties on the ground as well as practice close air support. TFT was tasked with providing on-site security to rescue isolated personnel from the hostile area.
“The exercise shows great joint interoperability between our branches,” Hyslop said. “The silver lining on Guam is huge, actually having the joint interoperability you get to see how the military as a whole is acting together and overcoming amazing obstacles every day.”