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Maryland Air National Guard & Wisconsin Army National Guard Joint Combat Search and Rescue Training

  • Published
  • By Maj David Elsing
  • Volk Field ANGB

Each September, for nearly the past decade, Volk Field and Hardwood Range have been fortunate enough to host a 4 day Combat Search and Rescue Training Event.  This joint exercise consists primarily of A-10 Thunderbolts from the 104 Fighter Squadron, nicknamed “the Fighting O’s”  from the Maryland Air National Guard as well as our very own Wisconsin Army National Guard Black Hawks, piloted by the 147th Aviation Regiment.  For one week each year, these two units execute the art of Joint Combat Search and Rescue.  The objective for each scenario is fairly simple, locate the Isolated Personnel (IP) and bring them home safely.  However, the tactical execution of this game plan is much more complex than what most would expect.  

Enroute to the target area,  the A-10’s are faced with multiple layers of air and surface threats which not only pose a risk to themselves but also to the Black Hawk’s used to extract the survivors.  The combined capabilities of Volk Field and Hardwood Range result in an ideal CSAR training environment that allow us to create this simulated threat environment.  The more than adequate airspace surrounding the airfield, a spacious bombing range, plus the organic Electronic Warfare capability provides all the essentials for developing a challenging yet realistic scenario.  Additionally, our state of the art War Room located within the Air Combat Training Systems facility at Volk Field provides exercise participants the space to plan, execute, and debrief each individual mission with advanced radar displays, data link, and multiple radios like never before.  

This years scenario hosted 8 X A-10s and 2 X UH 60’s during each mission.  Furthermore, our local staff collaborated with the 104FS to create a constructive scenario that consisted of 30+ virtual aircraft that were injected into the scenario each day via Tactical Data Link.  This added capability allowed aircrews to execute in a much more robust environment which maximized the effectiveness of each mission.  Overall, this year’s CSAREX was a huge success and Volk Field and Hardwood Range are already looking forward to next year’s event!