PLAYAS TRAINING AND RESEARCH CENTER, New Mexico --
Training exercises are a critical aspect of ensuring readiness across Department of Defense as it allows service members to train critical skills beyond their day-to-day operations.
During RED FLAG-Rescue 23-1, 22 Airmen from the 819th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, integrated into the exercise as simulated opposition forces, creating more complex and realistic scenarios for rescue personnel to navigate.
RED FLAG-Rescue is the DoD’s premier combat search and rescue exercise and is hosted at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, twice per year. This exercise incorporates rescue forces from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as multinational partners, to create interoperability and develop personnel recovery expertise amongst forces to strengthen readiness for real-world contingency operations.
“As a RED HORSE Squadron, we have the capability to perform rapid troop movement, and have our own weapons, equipment and vehicles that we can move anywhere in the world whenever necessary,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Joseph Lehotsky, 819th RHS Programs and Evaluation Flight commander. “We have acted as a hostile threat while rescue searches for downed personnel, and operated surface-to-air missile and radar sites to identify aircraft to try and simulate shooting them down.”
Additional complexity in the scenarios requires intricate attention to detail and perfect execution from rescue aviators and pararescuemen, the same standard demanded in real-world scenarios. This enhanced training environment not only expands the abilities of rescue Airmen, but also the skills and proficiency of the RED HORSE Airmen.
“The Playas Training and Research Center provided a great opportunity to experience an austere environment without resources as closely available as we are used to, which will be a vital piece to conquer in potential future conflicts abroad,” Lehotsky said. “This exercise provided an opportunity to train our logistics functions by transporting our vehicles and equipment from Montana to New Mexico. It also allows for more weapons handling experience, tactical movement and defense operations.”
Developing the skillsets of the Air Force’s most valuable asset, its Airmen, is essential to ensure success in tomorrow’s fight. Versatile, lethal and agile Airmen bolster the force, further surpassing the capabilities of our nation’s adversaries.
“It is important to have our Airmen experience how the flying operations side of the Air Force works,” Lehotsky said. “We are seeing the entire aerial site picture and understanding how the capabilities of the Air Force affect hostile forces on the ground, with great speed and efficiency. We are also using this exercise to identify future training objectives that we can use in our squadron’s capability to construct anywhere, anytime.”
As the Air Force continues preparing for tomorrow’s fight, Airmen train day in and day out to become more efficient, faster and stronger. Excellence in all we do, including more constructive training, allows them to outpace and overpower any threat that may arise by providing lethal and agile combat forces anywhere, anytime.