124th ASOS Builds Personnel Recovery Skills for State, Global Use
By Airman 1st Class Taylor Walker, 124th Fighter Wing
/ Published August 18, 2020
CASCADE, Idaho -- Special warfare tactical air control party Airmen from the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing, participated in personnel recovery training with the IDANG 190th Fighter Squadron and the U.S. Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Four from North Island Naval Air Station, California, Aug.11-12 in Cascade, Idaho.
Typically performed alongside Air Force special warfare pararescue teams, personnel recovery is a mission assigned to highly trained individuals in the event a military member becomes isolated while in a foreign or hostile country.
“People usually think the mission is just a personnel recovery team going in to find a pilot or team that’s down, but it’s more than that,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Wells, a joint terminal attack controller in the 124th ASOS. “We’re utilizing all the resources available, from people in higher echelons and medical, to personnel recovery command control and air assets. It’s important to have all of these groups in sync and working together to be efficient in location and recovery.”
In the field, the role of a JTAC in personnel recovery lies primarily in coordination of aircraft that are able to inspect last known locations and attempt to make radio contact with the isolated personnel.
“As a member of the personnel recovery team, we have to be familiar with a whole range of skills from operating out of a helo, to hoisting and fast-roping,” said Tech. Sgt. Dylan Isaman, a JTAC with the 124th ASOS. “But most importantly, we apply our skills in airspace coordination, deconfliction and sensor management to support the pararescue mission. We take that burden off of them.”
Personnel recovery skills are vital in hostile circumstances overseas, but this skillset also plays an important role in the relationship between the Idaho Air National Guard and the state of Idaho.
“There are major local benefits to JTACs having this skillset under their belt,” said Wells. “We can utilize what we know and effectively assist a hunter who’s fallen down a hill and broken his leg in rough, backwoods terrain, and we can partner with local civilian search and rescue teams to get someone out of a potentially fatal situation.”
Often training together with ski patrol organizations, local law enforcement and avalanche rescue teams, the 124th ASOS continues to create successful partnerships to support state missions.
“We’re an asset to the state of Idaho and it’s our job to keep showcasing that,” said Isaman.