Angel Reign: Joint Training in the Outback

MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. -- The 129th Rescue Wing departed Moffett Federal Airfield on June 26 for Townsville, Australia as part of joint training exercise Angel Reign. While there, California Air Guardsmen participated in a diverse set of search and rescue (SAR) training exercises with the Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Army.

"This mission is about the 129th Rescue Wing growing as a whole. When we think of diversity, we think of skin tone or gender. But to me, it's culture," said Col. Taft Aujero, 129th Operations Group Commander. "We are growing culturally by doing these joint missions and working along-side our allied military counterparts."

One training mission utilized two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters to rescue simulated victims off the coast of Townsville.  Pararescuemen pulled the simulated victims directly out of the water and administered first aid in the helicopter.

After the pararescuemen polished their over-water SAR proficiencies for three consecutive days, the time came later in the week to showcase their abilities on solid ground while under enemy fire. At the High Ground Combat Survival Training site, personnel from joint teams demonstrated their injured personnel recovery capabilities in an urban environment involving an improvised explosive device and simulated paint rounds.

"All the Australians we have worked with have the tendency to adapt and not become too stuck to one plan," said Senior Airman Matthew Sutterfield, 129th Rescue Wing survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) specialist. "If the plan doesn't work out, they are always willing to roll with the changes and continue working on a new concept."

Not far from the High Ground Combat Survival Training site, the sky above the Great Barrier Reef played host to MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft exercises, refueling the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters in midflight.

"Anytime we can train in different airspaces, or unfamiliar rendezvous, we get the chance to gain new skills and improve our worldwide capabilities," said Master Sgt. Eric Valdez, an MC-130P Combat Shadow loadmaster.

The three aircraft flew a total of over 50 combined hours, conducting SAR missions and air dispatch of equipment.  They were supported by communication personnel and maintenance crews working together, learning more about each section's capabilities and fighting as a cohesive unit.

"It's a great opportunity to practice in a new environment and to work our interoperability with our Australian counterparts," said Sutterfield.