News: Personnel Recovery Training
Story by Maj. Will Cox
DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The Georgia Army National Guard trains to be ready to fight the nation’s wars, and as we prepare for war, we prepare for the worst, such as when an aircraft is shot down. Charlie Company, 1-185th Assault Helicopter Battalion’s air crewmembers conducted personnel recovery training early this April near Dahlonega, Ga.
Army personnel recovery is the sum of military, diplomatic, and civil efforts to prevent isolation incidents and to return isolated persons to safety or friendly control, as stated in FM 3-50.1. Unit commanders, staff, subordinate leaders, and Soldiers are trained how to react to an isolating incident. This training includes the Code of Conduct and survival, evasion, resistance and escape training. It stresses the five personnel recovery execution tasks: report, locate, support, recover, and reintegrate.
“Personnel recovery is all about returning isolated individuals back into friendly control,” said Stuart Bothwell C/1-185th AHB tactical operations officer. “Air crewmembers do what we do so well partly because we know there is an entire architecture dedicated to bringing them home.”
The company conducted it’s academic training concerning the personnel recovery program, which includes survival such as the Combat Survivor Evader Locator Radio, which allows an isolated individual to alert national assets with the touch of a single button. Other hands on training focused on tools attached to their survival vests like a magnetic compass, smoke flares and signaling mirror.
“Today our aircrews do not know that they are conducting personnel recovery training because we are simulating a real world event where there is stress of the unknown and most times people are not as prepared as they would want,” said Stuart Bothwell C/1-185th AHB tactical operations officer. “Once the exercise starts they will receive a short term evasion plan of action that instructs them to contact the Joint Search and Recovery Center through their CSEL radio to receive further evasion guidance.”
The air crewmembers landed their helicopters in the north Ga. mountains near Dahlonega expecting to receive land navigation training from the local ranger unit, but instead they were told they were shot down and ended up being hunted by two man ranger teams as they evaded through the forest, using low ground and vegetation to conceal their movement toward their assigned extraction point.
“Having our team shot at (with blanks and artillery simulators) helps add to the realism as they work as a team to be recovered,” said Bothwell. “The simulated danger gives our air crewmembers a safe environment to learn now rather than on the actual battlefield.”
“We do this to bring our people home,” said Bothwell.