Airmen test combat search, rescue skills during Pacific Thunder

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS) — One of the largest joint combat search and rescue exercises in the Pacific region, Pacific Thunder 18-1, kicked into full swing at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Oct. 23, 2017.

With more than 20 U.S. squadrons and nine South Korean air force wings involved, this year’s exercise is the largest to date. Pacific Thunder provides the 25th Fighter Squadron and the 33rd and 31st Rescue Squadrons opportunities to train in simulated combat search and rescue missions all while working alongside their South Korean counterparts.

“Pacific Thunder originally started in 2009 as a one week exercise between the 25th Fighter Squadron and the 33rd Rescue Squadron and has since grown into a (Pacific Air Forces) level exercise,” said Capt. Travis Vayda, 25th FS Pacific Thunder 18-1 coordinator.

Although the annual exercise features a range of units participating, it is still centered on the 25th FS and 33rd RQS.

“Combat search and rescue is one of the most important mission sets we have in the A-10 community because we are really the only fixed wing asset in the Air Force who trains to the CSAR mission,” Vayda said. “We are the close muscle, so essentially we are the body guards of the person on the ground and the helicopters that are rescuing them. Obviously in a CSAR, you don’t want to have another type of shoot down or anything happen.”

During the exercise, the 33rd RQS is able to directly work with A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots from the 25th FS, a conjoined training that both units typically have to simulate.

“The realism of the exercise gives us an opportunity to really see how the 25th FS operates,” said Capt. Dirk Strykowski, 33rd RQS HH-60 Pave Hawk flight lead. “Back in Kadena (Air Base, Japan), we pretend as best we can to know what these guys are going to sound like on the radio, what calls they’re going to make and what kind of information they are going to provide, but being able to come up here and refresh what that’s actually going to be like is probably the biggest take away from the exercise.”

Pararescuemen and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists from the 31st RQS provide more realism by acting as isolated personnel.

“The intent of this exercise is to train like you fight, and we are trying to replicate that as best we can,” Strykowski said. “We have a lot of support from our pararescue and SERE. They’re out there on the ground now pretending to be downed pilots. So every step of the way, we are making it as realistic as it can get.”

Through combined CSAR training, Pacific Thunder enhances the combat effectiveness between U.S. and South Korean air forces. Exercises like Pacific Thunder highlight the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between U.S. and South Korean forces, helping to ensure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, and reaffirms the U.S. commitment to stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region

Link to original story: http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1353549/airmen-test-combat-search-rescue-skills-during-pacific-thunder/ 

The Air Force Special Operator Mindset

“If you’re going to do something, do it right.”  It’s a cliche` saying, but it’s one that has extra importance when applied to special operators.  Battlefield Airmen tasks are not just completed right- they are completed exceeding the standard.  The term “good enough” is rarely, if ever used in the special tactics community- or else we wouldn’t be special.  Because special tactics airmen are a high demand, low density asset, they are used for high risk, specialized tasks that require the most talented individuals the Air Force has to offer.  If you want to be one, you need to act like one beforehand.

When training for special tactics selection courses, the same mentality holds true.  If you aren’t striving to flourish and improve at every opportunity, you aren’t dedicating the effort required to be successful.  This applies to all parts of the day.  Time management, prioritization and work effort are all keys to how you plan your training for selection.

Battlefield Airmen selection courses are not simply physical fitness courses designed to weed out the weak.  They are that to some degree, but the reality is these selection courses are also designed to find those that are truly dedicated to being a professional.  The time and effort you put on yourself to prepare for such courses will be evident to instructors.  Those that excel and continually improve on their training will excel.  Those that say “Good Enough” will struggle.

For a specific example, look no further than the Battlefield Airmen PAST test (check out the forums for the latest version).  When crosstrainees or officers are looking to selected at Phase 2 courses, minimum PAST scores won’t get the job done.  Instructors will rarely select candidates with weak but passing PAST numbers.  It shouts out to everyone: “I’m content with the minimums!”

Being exceptional is difficult.  It requires extra effort, increased diligence and consistent perseverance.  It is defined by how much you want this.  If you want something bad enough, you will put in the effort to be exceptional.  Your natural good looks and wonderboy talent won’t help you here.  You must put in the blood, sweat and tears to be successful at selection.  This mindset will be the foundation to your successful operational career.  Hooyah.

-SW

Short jump, long drop

 

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 31st Rescue Squadron and U.S. Army Soldiers walk down a runway toward an MC-130J Commando II after parachute training Oct. 3, 2017, at Ie Shima, Japan. Service members must retain their proficiency in jump operations to ensure they are ready to conduct operational and humanitarian missions at a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Quay Drawdy)

 

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Maria recovery operations

FROM DVIDS:

Master Sgt. Harley Bobay, a combat controller in the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, provides air traffic control to planes delivering relief supplies to Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 22, 2017. Bobay is one of seven Airmen from the unit who deployed to the Caribbean to support recovery operations following Hurricane Maria. (U.S. Air National Guard photo)

106th Rescue Wing Supports Hurricane Harvey Victims

Story by Airman 1st Class Daniel Farrell 

106th Rescue Wing/Public Affairs

Some members of the New York National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing are active guard reserve, full-time technicians and government contractors, however many are not.

The majority of the 106th Rescue Wing is comprised of citizen soldiers, often referred to as Minute Men. They are police dispatchers and officers, teachers, computer technicians, fire fighters,
construction workers, Wall Street stock financers, doctors and even a Washington based lawyer.

But when Texas called for help, New York and many Air National Guard units throughout the country answered the call.

The 106th Rescue Wing responded in support of the Hurricane Harvey rescue and relief effort in Texas on August 26, 2017.

The 106th Wing Commander Michael W. Bank put the wing into action and within 24 hours the members of the 106th had packed two C-17 Globemaster III, from the 105th Air Wing assigned to the
New York Air National Guard, with three HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, four Zodiac boats, a truck and equipment necessary to carry out the missions.

The 106th Rescue Wing also sent down an HC-130 search and rescue aircraft.

Folding three Pave Hawk helicopters and loading them onto a C-17 is no easy feat. It takes two to three hours just to fold the Pave Hawk helicopters, and two to three hours to load them into the
aircraft, said Senior Airman Kenneth J. Kiefer, a helicopter crew chief with the 106th Maintenance Group.

The members of the 106th Maintenance Group worked long days and late nights under conditions that ranged from swift winds and rain to blue skies under a hot sun. However, they were up for the
task.

“Our maintainers unloaded, unfolded our HH-60s in minimal time and kept both the HC-130s and HH-60s flying throughout the duration of the rescue,” said Lt. Col. Robert Siebelts, the 106th
Maintenance Squadron commander. “They all stepped up and did an outstanding job.”

On the operational side, the members of the 106th had no shortage of harrowing rescues.

While rescuing a family of five, with all focus on one side of the Pave Hawk helicopter, Master Sgt. Joseph Napolitano, a special mission aviator with the 106th’s 101st Rescue Squadron, remained
diligent spotting a towel and a pair legs hanging out of a house window while he sat in position on his side of the Pave Hawk helicopter.

“Nobody saw it,” said Napolitano. “I was pretty adamant about it.”

Had it not been for Napolitano’s diligence, the crew would have thought they were deceased and left the area.

In another rescue, Senior Airman John J. Kosequat and Staff Sgt. Ryan R. Dush, both Pararescuemen with the 106th’s 103rd Rescue Squadron, and fathers to young children, rescued an infant from a
home taken by flood waters.

Dush was able to secure the infant safely to his body using a babybjorn style harness, he then began doing his fatherly duties by making sure there were no pinch points or constraints that would injure
the baby during the 60ft hoist to a hovering Pave Hawk helicopter.

“It was really emotional,” said Dush. “Just knowing you don’t want anything bad to happen to this small child.”

The boat crews from the 106th Rescue Wing, operating in the greater Houston area, at times went door to door, block by block, in medium to large scale evacuations. The members spent their nights
in the field, sleeping in warehouses, fire departments, police departments and even an abandoned house. At best, they were able to get a cot.

“We wanted to have a minimal footprint on local resources while getting out the most for the people that needed the help,” said Maj. Sal Sferrazza, a Combat Rescue Officer with the 106th’s 103rd
Rescue Squadron. “These are people’s lives. We wanted to be that lasting impact on the ground and apply our abilities.”

Although the pararescuemen are the ones that drop from helicopters, it’s important to remember that it takes a crew made up of pilots, special missions aviators, as well as pararescuemen, for the
mission to be successful.

“Pilots and special mission aviators are vital to the mission,” said Maj. Glynn Weir, a Combat Rescue Officer with the 106th’s 103th Rescue Squadron. “We would never get to the spot and we could
never take those patients to the hospital on a boat.”

While C-130s flew over the Houston area controlling the air traffic of helicopters in the area, back at Fort Hood, Texas, members of the 106th Communication Squadron set up a Tactical Operations
Center, where Lt. Col. Geoffrey Petyak, the 106th Operations Group commander in charge of the Hurricane Harvey relief effort, ran the Rescue Coordination Center.

The Rescue Coordination Center received missions, or taskings, from Joint Operation Centers and Petyak coordinated the New York rescue forces that are in Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey,
said Lt. Col. Thomas Keany, the 106th Deputy Operations Group Commander.

“Texas was there for us when we needed them,” said Keany. “We are just happy to be down here for them, doing anything we can.”

The rescue response from this group of New York Air Guardsmen resulted in 546 total saves not to mention saving nearly two dozen pets. In the end, 124 members of the 106th Rescue Wing left New
York to come to the aid of those in need in Texas that others may live.

“I’m really proud of everyone,” said Petyak. “We are here to help Texas, and these guys worked extremely hard to save as many lives as possible.”

How to Do a 50m Underwater

From the PJ Pool Wizard Series:

How to accomplish the 50m underwater. No analyzing in this video, just a solid view of how its done well. Note there is no panicking near the end- usually indicated by faster strokes or looking up to see where the end is (like most 50m attempts), his stroke and stroke count remains efficient throughout, and he finishes calmly with air to spare