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Biannual Angel Thunder Exercises Test Combat Search, Rescue Capabilities

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Frankie Moore 355th Fighter Wing

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TUCSON, Ariz., Nov. 7, 2017 — Angel Thunder, a series of biannual exercises focused on testing combat search and rescue capabilities, began operations for this year's second iteration at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base here Nov. 4.

Pararescue airmen prepare a patient for helicopter transport.
Air Force pararescuemen with the 58th Rescue Squadron prepare for aerial transport during personnel recovery training at Pond Lading Zone during Angel Thunder 17 in Tucson, Ariz., May 11, 2017. Angel Thunder is a series of biannual exercises focused on search and rescue operations. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos
Pararescue airmen prepare a patient for helicopter transport. Angel Thunder 17
Air Force pararescuemen with the 58th Rescue Squadron prepare for aerial transport during personnel recovery training at Pond Lading Zone during Angel Thunder 17 in Tucson, Ariz., May 11, 2017. Angel Thunder is a series of biannual exercises focused on search and rescue operations. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos

This year's previous Angel Thunder exercise was held here May 6-19.

The latest two-week-long exercise features Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps participants, along with service members from Canada, France, Italy and Poland, to conduct training to prepare to support survivors, referred to as isolated personnel, in a deployed environment.

Teamwork

"We want to create scenarios where these different Department of Defense entities have to come together to solve a problem," said Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Rosebrough, director of operations for Detachment 1, 414th Combat Training Squadron. "We want them to play to each other's strengths and mitigate each other's weaknesses."

The Air Combat Command-sponsored exercise will use a variety of scenarios to simulate deployed conditions and contingencies, he said.

Pararescue airmen carry a patient to a helicopter.
Air Force pararescuemen with the 58th Rescue Squadron move a mock patient onto an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter during a personnel recovery scenario at Pond Lading Zone in Tucson, Ariz., during the biannual Angel Thunder exercise, May 11, 2017. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos
Pararescue airmen carry a patient to a helicopter. Angel Thunder 17
Air Force pararescuemen with the 58th Rescue Squadron move a mock patient onto an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter during a personnel recovery scenario at Pond Lading Zone in Tucson, Ariz., during the biannual Angel Thunder exercise, May 11, 2017. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos

"The main point of these exercises is to give the participants as much practice as possible before going downrange," Rosebrough said. "They can use the experience they gain from these simulations to make knowledgeable decisions while in a deployed environment."

Biannual Exercises

Angel Thunder is held twice a year to ensure units throughout the DoD have the opportunity to participate in training events focused on combat search and rescue. The exercise provides training to U.S. and foreign-partner personnel recovery forces and helps to prepare them for future deployments.

Due to the dynamic range of the tactics used by U.S. adversaries, officials said, the exercise continually evolves to combat those alterations to better equip participants to deal with them downrange.