U.S. Air Force by Senior Airman Harry Brexel, 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
In deployed environments, Airmen often travel on Army aircraft and soldiers are often transported via Air Force aircraft, but GFLR 16-02 was the first time members from both branches trained together on a worst-case scenario: an aircraft crash behind enemy lines.
Planners from the 34th Combat Training Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, developed a realistic, joint training exercise to practice combat airlift capabilities, intelligence, tactics and survival skills.
A C-130J aircrew from Dyess, Air Force Base, Texas, worked with 82nd Airborne Division Black Hawk aviation soldiers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to hone survival, evasion, resistance and escape abilities.
The two aircrews found themselves stranded in the woods of Fort Polk, Louisiana, after a simulated Black Hawk crash. They teamed together to coordinate air support and extraction. They trekked to safety through mud, over streams and past oppositional forces.
Despite distinct differences in terminology and tactics, the Airmen and soldiers collaborated, communicated and coordinated extraction by friendly forces roughly 12 hours after the crash.
The 34th CTS plans to coordinate more unique joint SERE exercises for future editions of GFLR.