HomeMediaArticle Display

Exercise Angel Thunder to execute CSARTF capabilities

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- About 200 D-M Airmen from the 563rd Rescue Group, the 943rd Rescue Group, the 355th Operations Group and the 55th Electronic Combat Group, along with the 12th Air Force Plans Shop and Personnel Recovery Coordination Center, are gearing up to participate in exercise Angel Thunder July 9 to 20 here.

The combat search and rescue exercise was first held in July 2006 as a D-M-specific exercise.

"Until 2006, no dedicated Air Force CSAR exercise existed to provide realistic CSAR Task Force training," said Maj. Brett Hartnett of the 563rd Operations Support Squadron and the Angel Thunder project officer.

It was around that time that Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley tasked Air Combat Command's exercise division to create a CSAR exercise program, said Major Hartnett.

"Following the success of Angel Thunder 2006 as a local event, ACC offered official sponsorship of the exercise in 2007 as a national event," he said.

D-M proved to be the most logistically sound location to host the exercise, since it's surrounded by and embedded with various training opportunities.

Pararescue operations, Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape instruction, unique desert environments, an urban training complex, and numerous helicopter, C-130 and weapons capabilities are ideal training elements for this type of exercise, said Major Hartnett.

In fact, he added, Desert Lightning City, D-M's own simulated deployed location, will serve as the control center for the exercise housing the "White Cell" and Joint Operations Center.

Flight operations for the exercise will take place between the California border and southwestern New Mexico. Barry M. Goldwater Range near Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., and the Playas, N.M., urban training facility will host a few of the scenarios for the participants, Major Hartnett said.

He explained that the exercise scenarios will test the realistic theater spin-up capabilities of the participating personnel and examine the integration of all Air Force assets in mission planning procedures and mission execution.

"The training is tailor-able to customers' needs because the combat rescue community is planning and executing the exercise themselves, it encompasses the entire CSARTF and maximizes the Joint/Combined Force Integration," said Major Hartnett. In addition, Angel Thunder will be the first ever interagency, Department of Defense and Department of Justice joint CSAR training ever conducted.

Major Hartnett said that, ideally, the exercise will yield CSAR-trained airborne mission commanders, on-scene commanders, RV flight leads, Guardian Angel team leaders, CSAR planning and duty officers and provide CSAR orientation or certification for Joint CSAR recovery forces and protection assets.

"I'm certain the Desert Lightning Team will represent very well during this exercise," said Major Hartnett. "It will be a great opportunity to have all CSARTF assets together where we can interact and get to know each other, plan missions and learn each other's tactics."