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Davis-Monthan wraps up first Red Flag-Rescue exercise

Rescue personnel transload onto an HC-130J Combat King II during a mission as part of Red Flag-Rescue near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., on May 8, 2018. Red Flag-Rescue gives joint service personnel an opportunity to build fundamental combat search and rescue skills to fight in and out of contested environments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride)

An HC-130P/N King pilot, assigned to the 39th Rescue Squadron, controls the aircraft during low-level training as part of Red Flag-Rescue 18-2 near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 9, 2018. Red Flag-Rescue gives joint service personnel an opportunity to build fundamental combat search and rescue skills to fight in and out of contested environments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride)

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey crew chief, performs preflight checks on the aircraft to begin a combat search and rescue scenario as part of Red Flag-Rescue 18-2 near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., on May 12, 2018. Red Flag-Rescue gives joint service personnel an opportunity to build fundamental CSAR skills to fight in and out of contested environments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride)

An Air Force pararescueman yells to pass on vital information to Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircrew during a combat rescue scenario as part of Red Flag-Rescue 18-2 near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., on May 12, 2018. Red Flag-Rescue gives joint service personnel an opportunity to build fundamental combat search and rescue skills to fight in and out of contested environments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) -- Personnel Recovery and Combat Air Force assets from around the country convened at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, for the first execution of Red Flag-Rescue May 5-19, 2018.

Red Flag-Rescue, replacing Angel Thunder, is a new joint-force exercise that provides realistic combat rescue training in a contested, degraded and operationally limited environment.

“The purpose of the name change is to solidify that this is a joint and combat Air Force, flag-level exercise for dynamic targeting focused on isolated personnel also referred to as survivors,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Cunningham, Detachment 1, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander.

Red Flag-Rescue is the only dedicated Defense Department personnel recovery exercise accredited by the Joint National Training Capability, a DoD initiative to ensure combat forces have gained experience operating jointly before deploying to theater. Red Flag-Rescue is focused on Combat Search and Rescue planning, the Air Force’s preferred planning methodology for providing personnel recovery coverage. This exercise is the logical progression from a Red Flag-Nellis Air Force base, Nev., exercise starting after the initial days of a conflict where it becomes possible for forces to conduct CSAR operations with a focus on all five personnel recovery tasks.

“Red Flag-Nellis was originally created to give fighter pilots their first 10 combat missions in a large force exercise before deployment to contingency operations,” Cunningham said. “Vietnam War analysis had proven that pilot survivability increased dramatically after surviving 10 combat missions. “Red Flag-Rescue adopts this heritage as a subset of Red Flag-Nellis by providing joint forces their first 10 CSAR missions in a large force exercise. Contested CSAR operations can only be conducted by a full complement of integrated forces capable of fighting into and out of the survivor’s location.”

More than 700 personnel from 20 units of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy collaborated for the two week exercise.