621st AMAG participates in multilateral exercise Angel de los Andes

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing
 Travis Air Force Base, Calif. -- The 621st Air Mobility Advisory Group played a role in Angel de los Andes, a multilateral search and rescue exercise hosted by Colombia, from Sept. 3-14.

The exercise gave the group an opportunity to work alongside 11 partner nations responding to realistic simulations on search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation, casualty evacuation and air drop operations.

“This was an excellent exercise,”said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard Clark, 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron mission commander. “This is the second time the Colombian Air Force has hosted this exercise. The first one only involved Colombian aircraft. This year, aircraft from Colombia, United States, Peru and Brazil, participated in the exercise. Colombia is a regional leader and a strong partner with the United States. This exercise provided an excellent training ground for the region.”

While working alongside our partner nations in these scenarios, air advisors, air mobility liaison officers and aerial medical evacuation technicians validated the Colombian Air Force on core objectives.

Each function from the AMAG were responsible for different things throughout the exercise.

Air Mobility Liaison Officer

Through their ability to translate and “speak Army,” AMLOs advise supported units on safe and effective use of air mobility assets from the tactical to strategic level. Additionally, they bridge the communication gap between supported units and U.S. Air Force air mobility command and control agencies.

During the exercise, the AMLO was responsible for setting up drop zones for static line and free fall airdrops. The first drop was to standardize airdrop procedures between five nations. Airdrops were conducted by a C-17 Globemaster III from Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, a C-130 Hercules from the 133rd Airlift Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard and a Colombian Casa 295.

As part of the second week of the training, drops ranged from combatants for airfield seizure to rescue personnel depending on the exercise scenario.

Aeromedical Evacuation

Aeromedical evacuation personnel observed the response to a mass causality simulation during an earthquake scenario as well as a downed aircraft scenario. They focused on the initial triage of patients, the transload operations between helicopters and the C-17 or C-130 aircraft and patient care in flight.

“The aeromedical teams did a fantastic job,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jay Bowling, 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron aerial medical evacuation technician. “You have several nations that typically don’t’ work together in this capacity and they figured out a way to come together as a team to excel in this exercise.”

Throughout the exercise a U.S. Air Force C-17 and a C-130 transported approximately 500 passengers from all partner nations.

Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape

During the second week, the exercise was focused on combat search and rescue and included scenarios such as a simulated helicopter crash over water and a downed pilot. In the first scenario the 571st MSAS SERE and a SERE augmentee from Edwards AFB, California, were pre-positioned in the water during a simulation where two helicopters were shot down.

The SERE specialist helped the survivor’s signal a C-130 aircraft as well as a helicopter. They then helped the downed aircrew use the hoist rescue devices to get in the helicopters.

“It’s critical to get SERE training, especially on a stage like this where you throw everyone into the mix,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joe Dittmer, 571st MSAS air advisor. “Each Country has their own unique qualities and capability's when it comes to personnel recovery. When you mix them all together you get the chance to shake out the good and the bad and build a more effective recovery team with one another.”

The following day, teams maneuvered through the jungle to find two downed A-37 pilots behind enemy lines.

“This exercise was very important for all the participants involved,” said Colombian Air Force Lt. Col. Luis Díaz, exercise task force commander. “This was a perfect opportunity for us to share knowledge, experiences and techniques for doing search and rescue during disaster relief and combat search and rescue a multinational environment.”