ARTICLE: Critical Practice
An Iraqi national steps out of the field and approaches the downed Black Hawk’s crew…”You ruined my field,” he shouts, waving his arms in anger over his long, white tunic. “You burned it yesterday and you landed in it today. My crops! Who’s in charge? Who’s going to pay for this?”
The scene Thursday was similar to those that played out throughout last week at North Fort Hood, as Kansas National Guardsmen prepared for their upcoming deployment to Iraq with a complex personnel recovery exercise…Dozens of teams of six 1st Battalion, 108th Aviation Regiment soldiers completed the training, following an imaginary forced landing in hostile territory — replete with civilian contractors posing as enemy combatants.
This is another example of the US putting its money where its mouth is is for personnel recovery. Creative training, allocation of resources, unit commitment to building personnel recovery capabilities–those are great signs of a unit that gets it.
I would like, however, to see this training lose its aviation focus. Convoys, AfPak Hands, mentors to Afghan National Security Forces, US Army Corps Engineers, and so many others in non-flying positions are equally at risk of isolation in Afghanistan and Iraq (remember Iraq?). Traning needs to be engineered for their operating environments and then rehearsed.
“Personnel recovery is going to be a lot more relevant with the troop draw down (associated with Operation New Dawn)” “There’s not going to be as many friendly forces in the area.” “It’ll be harder with not as many recovery assets available.”
We can expect the risk to shift in the direction of deployed governmnet civilians and contractors as troop reductions continue. As I write this I am mid-way through a two-week predeployment training program for civilians as I prepare to deploy to Afghanistan for six months, so I will have more to say on this topic…)
(Hat tip to my favorite bass fisherman for forwarding links to the articles mentinoned here).