F.S. GABRESKI AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. – Rescue aircraft circled overhead and Green Berets dropped in to recover a simulated friendly casualty in a joint combat rescue exercise with the New York Air National Guard and Army National Guard Special Forces at Warren Grove Bombing Range, New Jersey, May 6.
Airmen assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing, 105th Airlift Wing, and Soldiers assigned to the Massachusetts Army National Guard participated in Operation Jawbreaker. The exercise simulated a full mission profile to demonstrate the units’ range of capabilities.
“The ultimate objective was to execute a mission that exercised a lot of the core tasks and skill sets that we have here while also gaining experience with and exposing outside assets to our capabilities,” said Maj. Sean Gavin, a 101st Rescue Squadron helicopter rescue pilot at the 106th Rescue Wing, flight leader and one of the exercise planners.
Jawbreaker featured a scenario in which a remotely located, friendly, bare-bones base experienced an enemy attack, with a casualty requiring air evacuation.
The role of friendly forces was played by the 105th Airlift Wing, Base Defense Squadron, which specializes in rapid deployment and providing security for austere, forward-operating airfields.
“To have everything that you need in one complete package to support a special operations mission is exactly what Green Berets, SEALs, PJs need when they go do their missions,” said Capt. Alex Krienke, Special Forces team leader.
Two HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters with four crew members each from the 101st Rescue Squadron, assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing, carried an Army National Guard Special Forces team into the secured combat zone, deploying them via fast-rope from a hover, then circled over the area to provide security.
Supporting from a higher altitude, with a wider view of the operating area, an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft with a crew of five, assigned to the 102nd Rescue Squadron, 106th Rescue Wing, used its search and rescue sensors to relay real-time tactical data between air and ground forces, and the 106th Operations Group, also assigned to the 106 RQW, intelligence personnel who were monitoring the mission.
Once secured, the simulated friendly casualty was evacuated by helicopter and taken to a nearby airstrip where an HC-130J and crew of five were ready to receive the patient. A portion of the cargo area was converted into a medical station, offering medics more space to provide advanced lifesaving care and a faster flight to a field hospital.
“The Green Berets wanted to practice long-term medical care in the field,” said Gavin. “That’s something they need to be really good at, considering they may be tasked to cover a large area where there are limited assets.”
An important element of a dual-branch exercise is to familiarize those involved with the terminology used by the different service branches to prevent confusion when communicating with each other, especially during a high-stress situation like combat.
“Doing training like this gives us exposure to the way the Air Force wants to hear it and it’s very beneficial for me to keep in the back of my mind next time I know an Air Force asset is coming to support one of my operations,” Krienke said.
The capabilities and readiness of the 106th Rescue Wing had an impact on the Green Berets.
“We were very impressed and absolutely look forward to working with the 106th in the future,” said Krienke. “These guys really know what they’re doing.”
The 106th Rescue Wing, based at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, specializes in rescue and recovery and deploys for domestic and overseas operations.