943rd Rescue Group Ready for Search & Rescue Operations

Combat Search and Rescue

Story by Andre Trinidad, 943rd Rescue Group.

Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 943rd Rescue Group successfully completed training scenarios that incorporated highly mobile, temporary facilities in remote, austere locations while still performing combat search and rescue operations from 30 April through 3 May.

Exercise Northern Assessment was hosted by the Arizona Army National Guard Base at Camp Navajo, near Flagstaff, Ariz.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul, Chief of Safety, 943rd Rescue Group, is the project coordinator for the exercise and he said, “the purpose of this exercise was to test and prove our combat search and rescue capabilities under the Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) and Agile Combat Employment (ACE) models.”

Agile Combat Employment demands Airmen develop a broader set of skills so smaller teams can accomplish the mission from remote, austere, and temporary operating bases.

A team of less than 120 military personnel were able to setup and establish a Forward Operating Base (FOB) and a Forward Operating Site (FOS) to provide on-call Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) and Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) operations within the first day of arrival and provide support for military air operations in an Area of Responsibility (AOR) covering thousands of square miles.

The exercise kicked off on Friday by performing a pallet drop from an HC-130J Combat King II, where Airmen from the 943rd Rescue Group quickly set up and established a FOS. The rest of the team set up and established the FOB at another location.

Staff Sergeant Andre, Aircraft Structural Maintenance, 943rd Maintenance Squadron said “at Davis-Monthan I perform my job and wait until something is broken but here we were augmented to support Security Forces and litter carry to support our medical personnel. When there was a maintenance issue we had to figure out how to get the parts we needed and what we needed to fill in the gaps for continued mission success.”

Under the new way of thinking in ACE, military professionals obtained new roles in order to work as a team and accomplish the mission.

Technical Sergeant John, Squad Leader, 720th Security Forces Squadron served with the Marines before coming to the Air Force and deployed to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think the augmentees worked well and I believe that we could do this real world,” said Sgt. John. “For most of our deployments, we go to a base and everything is already established. Capt. Elizabeth, camp commander, 943rd Operations Support Flight, did a good job of checking in with us and making sure we had everything we needed, including getting meals.”

Lieutenant Colonel John, Flight Surgeon, 943rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, is a traditional reservist whose civilian job is an Emergency Room physician and he has deployed many times.

“It’s a bare bones facility but we’re acting beyond just basic and paramedic care. We are executing mid-level support you would find in an Emergency Room,” said Colonel John. “I think this is living proof that the 943rd Rescue Group is able to perform this task in a real-world environment.”

Exercise Northern Assessment was not confined to ground operations. One of the flying medical training scenarios was performed by the 943rd Aerospace Medicine Squadrons own Critical Care Air Transport Team (pronounced C-CATT). The CCATT is essentially an Intensive Care Unit aboard an aircraft.

Maj. Venus, Critical Care Air Transport Team registered nurse, 943rd AMDS, said, “I thought it was a great, realistic exercise. For us being in that tactical environment we pushed forward in a new mission set.” During the exercise the CCAT Team flew aboard an HC-130J Combat King II, from the 79th Rescue Squadron.

“We flew in alert status the whole time and it just added to our patient load. We had to start thinking about resources, and how we were going to manage all those patients until we could get back,” said Venus. “And then we flew much longer times with no options for re-supply so it exceeded our normal job requirement capacity. It helped us know what we needed to plus up from or minus from so that we have more room for what we need.”

The 305th Rescue Squadron flew search and rescue missions during the exercise. An HH-60 flown by exercise instructors would drop off volunteer personal with simulated wounds in remote areas of Northern Arizona. An alert notice would then be given to the exercise players and they would launch their HH-60’s with full flight crew and Pararescue personnel, to search for the missing persons using last known coordinates.

The exercise encompassed support from active duty, guard and reserve members from the following entities: 12th Air Force, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 79th Rescue Squadron, 655th AMXS, 919th Special Operations Communication Squadron, and the Arizona Army National Guard.

The 943rd Rescue Group organizes, trains and equips mission ready citizen airmen to perform personnel recovery operations worldwide and is assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. Their parent wing is the 920th Rescue Wing assigned to Patrick Space Force Base, Florida.

Exercise Northern Assessment was safely conducted using current CDC protocols and all service members were fully vaccinated.

Photo: A pararescue jumper, equipped with night vision goggles, scans the Iraqi terrain for mortar fire and stray bullets while engaged in a combat search and rescue rehearsal mission outside of Balad Air Base, Feb 23. Their mission is to bring back downed Airmen anywhere in the area of operations. They are assigned to the 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cecilio M. Ricardo Jr.)

Story: This story by Andre Trinidad of the 943rd Rescue Group Public Affairs office was originally published by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service on May 17, 2021. DVIDS publishes media content that is in the public domain.

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