TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Airmen from Moody Air Force Base, Ga. led and participated in a rapid-rescue exercise with approximately 1,500 service members Nov. 1-4.
This exercise was a Wing Combat Search and Rescue Task Force exercise developed to evaluate the 23rd Wing's ability to prepare and deploy in a combat environment and perform its CSAR and Dynamic Targeting missions.
“The portion at Tyndall specifically tested the 347th Rescue Group’s and 23rd Maintenance Group’s ability to deploy to and operate out of a forward operating base in a medium threat environment,” said Lt. Col. Carrie Worth, 23rd Wing inspector general.
While the groups were tested on their capabilities, the exercise was fully planned and executed by the 23rd Operations Support Squadron and 347th OSS weapons and tactics shops. The large-scale exercise mirrored the size of other exercises, like Red Flag.
“The company grade officers and their teams [from these squadrons] planned a near flag-level exercise,” Worth said. “This gave us the ability to evaluate the wing's ability to both train and employ its forces.”
These forces included HC-130J Combat King IIs, HH-60G Pave Hawks, C-17 Globemaster IIIs, A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, E-8C Joint Stars, pararescuemen and maintenance, intelligence and support Airmen that were put to the test at Tyndall.
“Tyndall offered the ability to evaluate our deployment machine, set-up and execution from a forward location and also test dislocated operations,” Worth said. “The entire personnel recovery force was not co-located since the A-10s were operating out of Moody and the HC-130J, HH-60s and Georgia elements were operating out of Tyndall. This allowed us to stress the [command and control] construct, battle tracking, mission planning and mission execution.”
Players operated out of a mobile rescue operations center next to the flightline at Tyndall while the aircraft they coordinated with took to the skies.
“We integrated with the HH-60s, the Guardian Angels, the C-130s and A-10s,” said Capt. William Dyke, 71st Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II pilot.
The 71st Rescue Squadron displayed the unique abilities of the HC-130J in a CSAR environment to include: helicopter air refueling, air drop, infiltration, exfiltration, landing on blacked out runways and non-traditional surveillance.
A rescue mission can often involve different aircraft and service members, and this exercise was an opportunity for these assets to work together, which Dyke said helped him get out of the familiarity of the squadron and work with other aircraft and commands.
Not only did different types of service members and aircraft come together, but this exercise also brought different bases together.
“Some of the operations we do are alert launches from a ground posture, where we launch in preparation of strikes going on,” said Col. Jason Gingrich, 347th RQG commander. “We have assets from Seymour-Johnson, Moody and at Tyndall conducting air operations. Sometime during the exercise, we will have an aircraft simulate getting shot down, and then the CSAR forces will launch and recover those forces working as a whole package.”
After the final mission, everyone repacked and headed home after a successful week.
“The planning and preparation demonstrated by the 347th OSS team at Tyndall was simply amazing,” Worth said. “Well done.”