BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Army and Air Force units at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, held a training event March 7, 2017 that allowed them to streamline joint combat search and rescue techniques.
Guardian Angels from the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron conducted the joint personnel recovery training with Task Force Fighting Eagle’s aerial reaction force.
Guardian Angel teams here are comprised of pararescuemen; combat rescue officers; and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists who are trained in CSAR and are responsible for Air Force personnel recovery throughout Afghanistan.
The 136th Infantry Battalion Chosen Company 2nd Platoon Aerial Reaction Force is an infantry platoon that is often the first sent to a downed U.S. Army or coalition aircraft to provide recover aircrew and secure sensitive items aboard the aircraft.
“Its two like entities doing a similar job,” said Air Force 2nd Lt. Dan, 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron combat rescue officer and Guardian Angel team commander. In addition to being a combat rescue officer, Dan has 14 years of experience as an aeromedical evacuation technician and pararescueman.
He says the training worked to “Combine their strengths to make a superior force to get our guys home. It’s all about the guy on the ground, the isolated person, the folks that are injured.”
The units held several tabletop training sessions which culminated in a practical exercise involving a simulated downed aircraft.
“[Pararescuemen are] basically the subject matter experts for casualty extraction and treatment – this is their bread and butter – so they’ve been helping us with that,” said Army 1st Lt. Brett Rankowitz, 136th Infantry Battalion Chosen Company 2nd Platoon Aerial Reaction Force leader. “They are working to make sure that our medics are to the proficiency that they would like to see, working to develop our extraction techniques, and helping us with the air to ground integration as well.”
Each spends twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week on constant alert for any type of complex search and rescue scenario that may need their immediate response. They put those skills to the test during the drill, evacuating and treating six patients while providing site security under enemy fire.
Though each unit provides personnel recovery for their own services, per joint doctrine, the training will enable them to integrate seamlessly with one another should the need arise. For instance, if there were a mass casualty situation that might strain the capabilities of one team, the other would be able to fill in any gaps.
“With our combined capabilities, we remain a superior force to get the folks out of there faster and more efficiently,” said Dan. “It’s something … that is a force multiplier in the battlespace.
“When the boots hit the ground, we have a common goal and we are able to operate efficiently together.”