See Them for What They Are

The inclusion of the term “personnel recovery” in the service’s list of 12 core functions has helped broaden understanding that the Air Force’s rescue capabilities are not limited to combat search and rescue, such as retrieving a downed pilot behind enemy lines. “Combat search and rescue is just one of many operational capabilities that we possess,” said Col. Darryle Grimes, commander of the 347th Rescue Group at Moody AFB, Ga., one of the service’s rescue hubs. Instead the Air Force’s recovery force is equally capable of civil search and rescue, space shuttle recovery support, non-combatant evacuations, humanitarian assistance/relief operations, and medical/casualty evacuations. “We are more able to utilize our full range of abilities if we realize that and if joint force commanders realize that,” said Grimes. Although the “vast majority” of rescues since 9/11 have not been pilots or soldiers stranded behind enemy lines, personal recovery training is still geared toward CSAR since it is one of the most demanding missions. “When we train at such a high level, we are ready to support other operations and incidents at all levels of intensity,” he explained. (For a full listing of USAF’s core functions and a description of each, see the service’s 2009 posture statement.) (Moody report by A1C Brigitte Brantley)