“That Others May Live”: Partner Nation integrates with U.S. Rescue forces for joint training

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kelly Goonan, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Public Affairs

1st Expeditionary Rescue Group Airmen recently conducted Exercise Agile Rescue alongside the Royal Jordanian Navy in Aqaba, Jordan, Feb. 27 – March 3.

The search and rescue exercise developed and refined rescue agile employment processes, testing the ability of multinational rescue forces to work in unison with USAF Rescue forces to beddown, sustain, and execute maritime search and rescue.

“This was the first ever U.S. Air Force Rescue integrated training with the Jordanian Frogman Group,” 1st ERQG deputy commander said. “Based on the resounding success, we intend to repeat this training as we have assets available. We effectively demonstrated the ability of the Rescue Group to conduct ACE at low cost and high yield to meet all training objectives for both USAF and RJN.”

Agile Combat Employment (ACE) is an operational concept aimed at supporting joint all-domain operations to provide a more lean, agile, and lethal force that can generate airpower from multiple locations. The 1st ERQG Commander noted that, “To be truly agile means you have to rely on support from outside your unit, our incredible Jordanian partners offered their base and logistics support, they provided everything we needed to successfully complete this training with a small footprint.”

USAF Rescue’s operational task of locating, communicating with, and recovering isolated personnel aligns with the maritime mission of the RJN’s Frogman group, a special unit responsible for conducting missions involving search and rescue at sea as well as all RJN underwater operations.

As part of the integrated training, the 1st ERQG conducted several bilateral “helocast” events with a combined team of USAF Pararescuemen (PJs), an HH60G pave hawk helicopter with CSAR aircrew, and Jordanian frogmen, over the Gulf of Aqaba. Air Force PJs are the DOD’s only elite combat forces specifically organized, trained, equipped, and postured to conduct full-spectrum, dedicated personnel recovery. They are the most highly trained and versatile Personnel Rescue specialists in the world and are tasked with rescue and medical treatment in combat environments.

Helocasting, a technique used to quickly get military forces into hard-to-reach maritime areas, is accomplished by hovering a helicopter just above the water’s surface while rescue forces jump from the helicopter into the water below as close to the survivor as possible. Once in the water, the RJN Frogman and USAF PJ team worked together to learn extraction by hoist and later by rope ladder. Culminating the six-day exercise, the 1st ERQG demonstrated a rapid water hoist strop extraction showcasing the expertise and ability of rescue forces to quickly execute their maritime mission anytime, anywhere.

“It is amazing what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time,” Frogman Lieutenant Commander Mahmood Bany Omar, said. “I hope in the future we can build on this and do a full search and rescue exercise integrating all available means.”

In addition to demonstrating aircrew and PJ proficiencies over water, Agile Rescue provided expeditionary maintenance Airmen the ability to test their capabilities by operating in realistic terrain and within the constraints of an austere environment.

“The constant barrage of salt and sand in this environment demands high caliber, cost effective, and rapid reaction maintenance,” the 801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Commander explained. “This exercise proved that those challenges can be overcome on short notice with minimal tools at their disposal and speaks to the caliber of our rescue maintenance team.”

Exercises like these continue to strengthen international military-to-military relationships and provide venues for developing, evaluating, and refining materiel and non-materiel approaches. They give Airmen the edge in a crisis by sharpening the skills necessary to prepare, plan for, and execute recovery operations by ensuring individuals are trained to react quickly to recover personnel and prevent capture, exploitation, or loss of life.

                     “These Things We Do, That Others May Live”