TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA (Lance Cpl. Charles Santamaria) – The mission was simple: to find two downed pilots and evacuate them to safety while maintaining security for extraction. The training allowed both Marines and soldiers to share tactics and learn from one another.
“It’s always a privilege to work with fellow American service members,” said a communications sergeant, 10th SFG (A). “The Marines were eager to learn, which made for a great exercise and training environment. A team like ours can work with anyone whether they’re foreign military or American which is one of the reasons why we’re so versatile.”
The Combat Center’s training areas provided a realistic, challenging environment for the Marines and soldiers to retrieve the downed pilots.
“The terrain made it realistically difficult to see because of the clouds of rocks and sand caused by the propellers of the aircraft,” said a communications sergeant, 10th SFG (A). “The challenges made the training even more effective because we have to train in the areas we may be operating in.”
Marines took the opportunity to learn a thing or two from the Green Berets during the exercise. Through every step of the TRAP exercise, the soldiers enlightened Marines on different methods of security, avenues of approach and extraction procedures. Marines were also eager to perform and demonstrate their skills as warfighters.
“Exercises like these are good to show other units what the Marine Corps can do,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Champer, joint fires observer, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment. “This was a great experience for me and I would do it again without hesitation.”
Once the pilots were found, an evacuation was ordered and Marines and soldiers carried an injured pilot to the aircraft for extraction. Marines and soldiers lined the landing zone, providing security for the aircraft. As the super stallion got closer to the ground, a wave of sand rose and hit the security at full force. As the dust settled, the downed pilots were put on the helicopters and the exercise ended with the entire team being safely evacuated from the area.
“It was good training,” said the team sergeant, 10th SFG (A). “The Combat Center’s training areas opened up a lot of options and allowed us to have a TRAP exercise and even multiple exercises that were as realistic as possible.”
Joint-training exercises such as this one allow Marines to share knowledge with other units as well as learn some new tactics themselves. Personnel recovery training with other branches gives service members an opportunity to see different methods of reaching the same objective, and ultimately make better warfighters.