Davis-Monthan wraps up first Red Flag-Rescue exercise

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  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
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.