ARDEN MILLS, Minn.—More than 45 airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing, 109th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and the 109th Airlift Squadron took part in combat and water survival training at the Arden Hills Army Training Site (AHATS), here June 16-19, 2013.
This year’s three day training consisted of classroom instruction, but a large amount of it was hands-on intense field training. The classroom portion was led by a SERE instructor who educated the Airmen on various aspects which included GPS, compass, map reading skills, safety flare operation, as well as instruction and use of survival radios. They even received an intelligence briefing.
“Our goal was to provide a scenario that was realistic to the troops containing things that could and may occur overseas,” said Major Erik Snedker, an Intelligence Officer for the 133rd Airlift Wing. “By bringing in the intelligence factor we can bring them a type of training that helps them gain more from it.”
Day one and three consisted of water survival training for the Airmen, in which they donned their life preservers to enter the water and swim towards a life raft. They boarded the rafts and were instructed on proper use and deployment of smoke and signal flares as well as instruction on how to escape from beneath a parachute.
The training on day two consisted of an intense land survival scenario in which members of the 133rd Security Forces Squadron played the role of enemy captors. They hijacked the incoming convoy containing the Airmen. Once captured, they were brought to holding cells where they were secured and left to try to escape towards safety. The captured Airmen had to work together as a team to free themselves and evade the captors. Once their escape was achieved they faced another challenge, in which they had to utilize their navigation skills to arrive at their check points.
“An exciting and key portion to this year’s training was the integration of the Army Blackhawk helicopters and making this a joint mission,” said Snedker. “Not only was this excellent training for us but it allowed the Army to get in the training they needed as well.”
Members of the Red Bulls, from the Army National Guard out of St. Paul played a huge roll in this year’s exercise. These soldiers assisted with the final portion of the land survival training by picking up the Airmen from their check points and bringing them back to the safety of their base camp. They also demonstrated proper use of the aerial rescue equipment within the Blackhawk.
“At the end of the day we are all on one team, whether it’s Air Force or Army,” said Senior Master Sgt. Aaron Siek, the NCO in charge of the exercise. “We are all deployed together and the more face to face time we have here, integrating these joint training exercises, the better off we will be in the future.”