This story was written by Staff Sgt. Sean Madden 106th Rescue Wing/Public Affairs
F.S. GABRESKI AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. – Rescue aircraft circled overhead and Green Berets dropped in to recover a simulated friendly casualty when the New York Air National Guard conducted a joint combat rescue exercise with Army National Guard Special Forces personnel, to strengthen their one-team, one-fight capabilities at Warren Grove Bombing Range, N.J., May 6, 2023.
U.S. Airmen assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing, 105th Airlift Wing and U.S. Soldiers assigned to the Massachusetts Army National Guard participated in exercise Operation Jawbreaker, which simulated a full mission profile, an all-encompassing mission meant to demonstrate the widest range of capabilities these units had to offer.
“The ultimate objective was to execute a mission that exercised a lot of the core tasks and skillsets that we have here, while also gaining experience with and exposing outside assets to our capabilities,” said Maj. Sean Gavin, a 101st Rescue Squadron helicopter rescue pilot at the 106th Rescue Wing, flight leader and one of the exercise planners.
Jawbreaker featured a scenario in which a remotely located, friendly, bare bones base experienced an enemy attack with friendly forces suffering a casualty that required air evacuation.
The role of friendly forces was played by the 105th Airlift Wing, Base Defense Squadron, which specializes in rapid deployment and providing security for austere, forward operating airfields.
“To have everything that you need in one complete package to support a special operations mission is exactly what Green Berets, SEALs, P.J.s need, when they go do their missions,” said Capt. Alex Krienke, Special Forces team leader.
Two HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters with four crew members each, from the 101st Rescue Squadron, assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing, carried a team of Army National Guard Special Forces personnel into the secured combat zone, deploying them via fast-rope from a hover, then circled over the area to provide security.
Supporting from a higher altitude, with a wider view of the operating area, an HC-130J Combat King II, aircraft with a crew of five, assigned to the 102nd Rescue Squadron, assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing utilized its search and rescue sensors to relay, real-time tactical data between air and ground forces, and 106th Operations Group, also assigned to the 106 RQW, Intelligence personnel who were monitoring the mission.
Once secured, the simulated friendly casualty was evacuated by helicopter and taken to a nearby airstrip where a waiting HC-130J and crew of five, were ready to receive the patient, with a portion of the cargo area converted into a medical station offering medics more space to provide advanced life-saving care and a faster flight to a field hospital.
“The Green Berets wanted to practice long-term medical care in the field,” said Gavin. “That’s something they need to be really good at, considering they may be tasked, to cover a large area where there are limited assets.”
An important element of a dual-branch exercise is to familiarize those involved with terminology used by the different service branches to prevent confusion when communicating with each other, especially during a high-stress situation like combat.
“Doing training like this gives us exposure to the way the Air Force wants to hear it and it’s very beneficial for me to keep in the back of my mind next time I know an Air Force asset is coming to support one of my operations,” Krienke said.
Experiencing the capabilities and readiness of the 106th Rescue Wing made an impact with the Green Berets.
“We were very impressed and absolutely look forward to working with the 106th in the future,” said Krienke. “These guys really know what they’re doing.”
The 106th Rescue Wing, based at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, operates and maintains the HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft, and the HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter. The 106th Rescue Wing is home to a special warfare squadron with pararescue men and combat rescue officers, specializing in rescue and recovery, and deploys for domestic and overseas operations.