Story and photos by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault
4th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Securing a landing zone, hovering above an extraction point and rappelling down to hoist a casualty to safety were all second nature to Soldiers who conducted a joint training exercise for a downed aircraft simulation Aug. 6.
Soldiers from the 759th Military Police Battalion and 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, took part in the training.
“It was a culminating exercise,” said Lt. Col. Tyler Smith, battalion commander, 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg. “We were able to coordinate with 759th MP Bn. to exercise our air assault capability, coupled with their desire to train some of their elements on aerial reaction capabilities. It was a great training opportunity for us to incorporate our battalion and other units.”
The MP’s mission was to conduct a ground search and secure and rescue, during a downed aircraft scenario.
“It was a great experience for the Soldiers to learn all the basics, such as deploying and extracting from an aircraft, medevac training and pilot rescue,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Heberer, battalion commander, 759th MP Bn. “This exercise helped us train more than 150 Soldiers on aircraft operations and gave us the chance to train our dog handlers.”
Company C, 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg., did gradual training to become proficient on hoisting casualties of a downed aircraft, and Soldiers said it was the highlight of the joint training exercise.
“The hoist training we’ve done has been on anything dealing with aircraft emergencies, hand-and-arm signals, and learning how to run the cable up and down,” said Staff Sgt. Neil Schmidt, flight paramedic, Company C. “We start by using something like a cinder block, and then move on to actual people. When we did the hoist during the exercise, it was only a 30-foot hoist. We can do up to 250-foot hoist into a confined area.”
Hoist training for this collaborative exercise began months ago by well-trained flight paramedics from Company C, said Smith.
“This unit might have just started, but there is not a single Soldier doing the hoisting operations who hasn’t done it downrange or in another organization,” said Smith. “The Soldiers we have doing hoists have an expansive amount of experience with these types of operations. We will set up our standard operating procedures and become even more efficient then we already are.”
Also, hoist training provides valuable lifesaving assets to units during deployments, said Smith.
“Once preflight-ready, the medevac flight crew can be ready in nine to 15 minutes,” said Smith. “They are always racing to the sound of the guns. There could be enemy or not, could be dusty or not, could be a hoist or a landing, and the scope of injuries can be vast. The hardest part that a medevac flight crew has is they’re constantly training to be ready for anything.”
The training conducted for the exercise gives the units many deployable assets and makes an impact on the capabilities of other units of Fort Carson.
“It’s a great first step for us to demonstrate to the Fort Carson community that we are eager to be integrated into their training and serve as an arm for their training as they prepare for their ground force missions,” said Smith. “We are here to provide extra flexibility and add that third dimension for the brigade combat teams. We are excited to work with all Fort Carson teams and enjoy bringing them the gift of aviation.”
759th MP Bn. Soldiers said the training was successful and look forward to working with 4th CAB in the future.
“Lt. Col. Smith and his battalion have been true professionals,” said Heberer. “It’s been a joy to work (with) this battalion. We’ve learned a lot from them about their aviation tactics, plans, and how they execute. I believe they learned about how we work, such as our ground tactic plans and how we use our military working dogs. This exercise has established a growing friendship between our two units for the next couple of years.”