ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England — The 48th Fighter Wing welcomed back deployed members of the 57th Rescue Squadron here, Feb. 8.
Guardian Angel teams comprised of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers returned from a deployment in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where they were part of the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron.
While they usually work with HH-60 Pave Hawks or HC-130J Super Hercules, the deployed Guardian Angel rescue teams integrated their mission skill set with U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook crews as part of Air Force Central Command’s first dedicated joint personnel recovery team.
“As the [Department of Defense] continues to enhance joint capabilities, so must personnel recovery evolve to provide the most capable and efficient means of rescue for isolated personnel,” said the 83rd ERQS director of operations. “CH-47Fs provide the most capable rotary wing platform in Afghanistan, enhancing our operational factors of space, time and force.”
Army Chinooks give Guardian Angel teams an enhanced capability given the current operational environment. The larger aircraft provides more room for equipment and personnel. The Chinooks also fly higher and farther than their Air Force counterparts.
“Of all my previous deployments where I’ve filled the commander role, I will say this one has been the smoothest in regards to building relationships,” said the 83rd ERQS commander. “The Army crews are very customer orientated, experienced and have been very easy to integrate with.”
The relationship built between the Army crews and Air Force Guardian Angel teams provides the bedrock for future joint PR recovery operations, aiding in the delivery of decisive airpower for U.S. Central Command, ally nations and America.