Story and photos by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault
4th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Flight crews learned to use a high-tech piece of equipment that could save their lives in the event their helicopter goes down, during classes at Butts Army Airfield Jan. 28-31.
The Combat Survivor Evader Locator class was the first held for Soldiers of 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, since the unit received the radios.
“The purpose of this training is to provide instruction to Soldiers regarding the loading, upgrading, maintenance, troubleshooting and functions of the CSEL equipment,” said Matthew P. Leib, CSEL instructor.
The equipment serves as a radio and beacon and allows pilots and crew members to communicate with headquarters in areas where other radios wouldn’t work. The 4th CAB received about 150 CSEL radios and 10 sets of CSEL loading equipment.
The first three days of the class were for flight operation Soldiers, who are in charge of maintaining and loading information into the CSEL equipment. The last two days trained the pilots, crew chiefs and crew members to properly troubleshoot and use the functions of the CSEL radios.
“This is my first time dealing with CSEL equipment,” said Spc. Darries Day, flight operations, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th CAB, 4th Inf. Div. “Getting the hands-on training with the CSEL equipment has taught me a lot in just three days.”
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lee E. Kokoszka, battalion tactical operations officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg., will eventually oversee all the battalion’s CSEL training for pilots, crew members and flight operations.
“This training is a key tool to help us enable pilots, crews and crew chiefs to facilitate their own recovery,” said Kokoszka. “The training is a good thing, because our guys get hands-on training which enables us to learn from the base level and all the way up.”
The CSEL is not like the survival radios of the past; it needs constant upgrade and maintenance. The training on it is necessary, because, if used properly, CSEL is a critical factor in personnel recovery, and is a proven lifesaver, Leib said.
“If all the crew chiefs and pilots know how to use the CSEL equipment; the survival rate jumps up a couple of notches,” said Day. “Knowledge is power, and knowing how to work your equipment can save your life one day.”
The equipment is critical in helping rescue downed Soldiers quickly.
“The CSEL equipment allows us to find individuals faster, where their location is and what kind of situation they are in at the time,” said Kokoszka.
The initial CSEL class taught by Leib consisted of flight operation Soldiers and 30 pilots. Future classes for the 4th CAB will be taught by the Soldiers and pilots who completed this iteration of CSEL training.