AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy, Aug. 15, 2017 —
Jumping out of an airplane flying 10,000 feet in the air isn't on everyone's daily to-do list, but for the "Guardian Angel" teams of the 57th Rescue Squadron, it's their bread and butter. That's exactly what they did during exercise Ares Shadow here, Aug. 8-11.
Ares Shadow is a 48th Fighter Wing-led personnel recovery exercise involving airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing and the 352nd Special Operations Wing, as well as members of the Italian armed forces.
"Exercises like Ares Shadow improve interoperability and improve the relationship with our partners here in [U.S. Air Forces in Europe]," said Air Force Lt. Col. Jose Cabrera, 57th Rescue Squadron commander. "It gives us a chance to work together, which we don't have often since we train usually on our own. It's only in exercises like this where we train together."
During the exercise, 57th RQS pararescuemen and combat rescue officers performed static-line and high-altitude, low-opening jumps, as well as jumps with the Italian navy. During one jump, a Guardian Angel team practiced rescuing a downed pilot.
Teamwork on Simulated Rescue
"It was unique in the sense that it gave us an opportunity to employ our long-range rescue capabilities," Cabrera said. "We launched from [RAF Lakenheath, England] on a C-130 and parachuted in a Guardian Angel team in Aviano to execute the recovery of downed airman. That team and the survivor were recovered by an Italian HH-101 helicopter. It gave us an opportunity to work with the host nation here, compare and contrast our [tactics, techniques and procedures] and work on our interoperability to be able to perform personnel recovery in the USAFE [area of responsibility]."
Squadron's Future Home
Exercise Ares Shadow gave the rescue squadron a taste of what's to come in the summer, when it is scheduled to move to Aviano.
"Being able to come out here and train with the Italians a year ahead of time gives us the opportunity to figure out how the ranges here in Italy work, how the procedures for airdrop operations work, and also what capabilities are out here that we can share with the Italians and the army paratroopers," Cabrera said.
The squadron's airmen hope this was the first of many jumps involving the Italian armed forces.
"This is the first time we have executed a jump with any Italian unit," said Air Force Maj. Nick Morgans, 57th RQS Detachment 1 commander. "As the 57th Rescue Squadron transitions from Lakenheath to Aviano, we will continue to pursue further jump operations and other training operations with the Italian air force."