***image1******image2***Eleven members of the 786th Security Forces Squadron, 86th Contingency Response Group, practiced their search and rescue skills June 14 to 18 during NATO Operation Clean Hunter at Georg-Friedrich Kaserne in Fritzlar, Germany.
They were joined by the 56th Rescue Squadron, 85th Group, Naval Air Station, Keflavik, Iceland, and rescue teams from the British, Polish and Czech forces.
“We’re training and practicing interoperability with the 56th Rescue Squadron,” said 1st Lt. Mike Jewell, assistant operations officer for the 786th SFS. “And it’s a great opportunity to interact with the NATO forces.”
During the week-long exercise, the 786th SFS practiced quick and safe extraction and insertion of troops and rescuing “survivors” or “downed pilots.”
Aircrews from a helicopter fleet of two HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 56th RQS participated along with Czech and Polish helicopters.
The scenarios all involved rescue teams and helicopters working together to perform rescue operations.
Some of the techniques practiced by the 786th SFS included climbing up rope ladders into helicopters hovering above ground, repelling and sliding down ropes from helicopters and parachuting from helicopters.
“Besides search and rescue, it also provides alternate ways for us to practice techniques we may use in the future that will help us open up airfields in bare base locations,” said Lieutenant Jewell.
Lieutenant Jewell said his security forces team provides the tents, communication and bare base infrastructure.
“They need us and we need them,” he said. “Neither one of us could perform these missions without the help of the other.”
Staff Sgt. Benny Tammelin, NCO in charge of vehicles for 786th SFS, said this type of training gives them valuable experience and knowledge that will help them to expand the CRG mission capability.
“This will help us to work in sync when we deploy together and ensure a smoother operation,” said Sergeant Tammelin. “It creates team integrity with the 56th RQS.”
Maj. Brett Hartnett, assistant director of operations for the 56th RQS, said the 786th SFS and the 56th RQS have been working together in real-world deployments since Kosovo in 1999 and more recently in evacuating people from the U.S. Embassy in Liberia last year.
He said this exercise was set up after he asked U.S. Air Forces in Europe officials for more opportunities to maintain a relationship with the 786th SFS to provide their essential Combat Search and Rescue support.
“This is all part of a larger plan to establish a NATO Response Force with the skills required to set up bare base locations,” he said. “And the only way to do it is with the help of the 786th SFS and the 86th CRG.”
As for the future, Major Hartnett said the 786th SFS and 56th RQS will continue their working relationship and practice their team skills in more exercises next year.