FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. --
The 563rd Rescue Group conducted the third iteration of Tiger Rescue, a personnel recovery exercise focused on combat search and rescue, at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Aug. 14-16.
The 3-day-long exercise brought personnel together from the 48th, 55th and 79th Rescue Squadrons to perform rescue missions before they deploy.
“We have less than an hour to pick up a survivor and get them while out in theater, so shaving off every second they can is key,” said Lt. Col. Jesse Enfield, 563rd RQG director of operations. “Since these guys don’t work together on a daily basis, this exercise allows them to make mistakes here versus making those mistakes in theater.”
The 563rd RQG also participates in other rescue-based exercises such as Red Flag and Angel Thunder. These larger exercises are for rescue in general, but Tiger Rescue is more focused on the specific downrange atmosphere that the rescue squadrons will be entering.
“Providing realistic threats and scenarios that are based off of the threats in the deployed environment is very important in these exercises,” said Master Sgt. Jake Williams, 563rd Operations Support Squadron superintendent of weapons and tactics. “This allows air crews to work around these threats and get to a downed pilot or isolated personnel.”
The wide range of terrain the southwestern U.S. offers greatly aids in simulating various deployed environments. The 563rd RQG can conduct several rescue scenarios in areas that range from heavily wooded mountainous areas to desert landscapes.
Tiger Rescue not only simulates the overseas environment, it also integrates with other Department of Defense agencies in order to create a more authentic experience.
“We also work with different agencies, like the Army MQ-1, that have never done rescue before,” Enfield said. “This helps the other agencies become more familiar with working with rescue because, when you are deployed, whoever is closest to the isolated personnel will be the one to respond. Once rescue arrives, the agencies will have an easier time coordinating with one another because of this integration.”
Unlike exercises such as Angel Thunder, which happen once or twice a year, Tiger Rescue takes place a few months before a unit deploys so the information gathered can be processed and tactics can be improved upon.
“Tiger Rescue really encompasses actual rescue aspects and challenges, unlike the larger exercises, which focus primarily on integration,” Williams said.
Tiger Rescue is an ever-evolving exercise that prepares its participants for various scenarios they may face downrange. The 563rd RQG is ensuring its Airmen, along with other Department of Defense agencies, have the tools they need to succeed when they are needed.