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U.S., Korean troops train to rescue downed aviators

Mar 10

By Pfc. Choi, Dong Hyun

SEOUL, Korea (Army News Service, March 10, 2009) -- An F-16 is gunned down north of the Demilitarized Zone, and the pilot is forced to eject.

Finding himself in the middle of a hostile area with North Korean infantry forces in hot pursuit, the pilot plans and executes an evasion plan that will lead him to safety. The pilot successfully reaches the designated pickup zone, where an Army UH-60 Black Hawk, safeguarded by four A-10s and two F-16s, flies in to evacuate him.

The scenes described above are not from the pages of a military epic. Rather, this training scenario was planned and developed for a joint-combined downed aviator training event that occurred Feb. 18-19 in Yanggu, Republic of Korea.

The training event, which took place at the Taepoong training site in the Republic of Korea's 21st Infantry Division's area of operations, was put together to enhance the joint combat search and rescue, or CSAR capabilities, among the U.S. forces as well as the combined operational capacity of the ROK-U.S. alliance.

"This training event bears significance in that we have two branches of the U.S. Armed Forces working closely with a ROK Army element in an area that seldom sees combined field training of this magnitude." says Lt. Col. Philip L. Mayberry of Combat Support Coordination Team One, the chief coordinator for the event. "This is as combined and joint as it gets."

2nd Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade supported the training event by providing a UH-60, the primary insertion and evacuation vehicle. The 25th and 36th Fighter Squadrons of the 51st Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force, provided four A-10s and two F-16s that conducted air interdiction against any threats toward the UH-60, as well as the pilots to play the downed aviator.

The ROK 21st Infantry Division matched this heavy turnout from the U.S. side by providing not only the training site, but also a reconnaissance company to role-play the North Korean infantry. To mirror real combat situations and challenge the Army aviation and Air Force assets in play, ROK 21st ID also supported the training with air defense artillery such as KM-167 A3 Vulcans and mortars.

The training event drew an enthusiastic reaction from the audience in attendance, which included Maj. Gen. Kang, Han Seok, commanding general of the ROK 21st ID and a significant number of Air Force and ROK personnel.

"This was a great opportunity for us to engage in some realistic combat training." said Lt. Col. Jeong, Cheol Jae, ROK 21st ID's chief of operations. "The training has helped all of us to develop an integrated combined combat system for both sides."

The U.S. participants echoed the assessment.

"The training was truly a homerun. I have already received word from the Air Force saying that they would like to transform this into a regular event." said Col. Robert D. Williams, commander of CSCT#1 and the originator/chief architect of the training event.

"With the resounding success we have had today, I will seek to plan and host more combined training events to the First Republic of Korea Army's AO. This is only the beginning." he added.

(Pfc. Choi, Dong Hyun serves with CSCT#1 Public Affairs.)

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