RAF Lakenheath strengthens Royal ties during Joint Warrior 2016

ROYAL AIR FORCE LOSSIEMOUTH, Scotland -- Airmen from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, recently completed three-weeks of intense threat-reaction training missions during Joint Warrior 2016 in Scotland.

Joint Warrior is a NATO exercise, which prepares rescue coalition force units for potential real-world scenarios that could be encountered in deployed environments.

"This training has been incredibility valuable to us," said Lt. Col. Bernard Smith, 56th Rescue Squadron commander. "It gave us the chance to get out of the crawl phase and go straight into the run phase when it comes pushing our limits and learning new skills that could ultimately save the lives of the people who need our help."

Integrating with NATO allies, the 56th and 57th RQS were able to simulate various situations and execute successful combat search and rescue operations of crew members and allied forces caught in a high-threat environment. Training scenarios like this enable the CSAR task force to formulate solutions that result in extraction for the downed personnel.

"Exercises like these really bring us out of our comfort zone," said Capt. Michael Bush, 56th RQS director of staff. "It puts us in an environment where we have to work expeditionary and pick-up on the go. This helps because it puts a healthy stress on the crews to pick-up on the local surroundings and apply tactics to advance the recovery process."

Bush participated as a survivor during a simulated hostile environment scenario, were he needed to alert NATO allies of his location, who then notified the 56th RQS of his position for recovery.

"I've learned a lot from these last three-weeks of training," said Capt. Garrett Wilson, 56th RQS co-pilot. "Since I'm still a young guy in the unit, this training gives me the chance to fly more frequently and really focus on the tactical side of our job in different terrain."

Aside from providing better range opportunities for the rescue units, Joint Warrior prepares the squadrons for future taskings. The squadron must be highly trained and ready to perform at a moment's notice.

"The overall training at Joint Warrior 2016 has been amazing," said Smith. "Our NATO allies have provided us with scenarios that deliver a sense of realism for aircrews to adapt and find the best way of completing the mission. These are opportunities that we usually don't get, even in the states."

With a new found proficiency, Joint Warrior 2016 has been deemed a huge accomplishment for NATO allies and the RAF Lakenheath team; a testament to the Liberty standard of remaining Forward, Ready, Now.