IAF’s SAR (Search & Rescue) unit 669 recently took part in an international exercise in USA, together with SAR units from 13 different countries. Watch the Video
Rescuing civilians from disaster areas, rescuing soldiers from a plane crash scene inside a hostile village, evacuating diplomats caught in a terrorist attack and rescuing casualties from an attacked bus: These were just some of the scenarios practiced by the 669 SAR combatants during “Angel Thunder”, the international rescue training exercise which takes place once a year in the USA.
The 669 delegation included several high-ranking officers who flew abroad in order to learn new training methods, advanced ammunition and new systems for helicopters. Another goal was examining the possibility of annual participation in the international exercise.
“The cooperation benefits both sides”
This is the first time the 669 combat soldiers take part in the “Angel Thunder” training exercise, which was held for the 10th time. 2,100 participants from SAR units from 13 different countries including Germany, Britain and Denmark, spent 1,030 hours in the air and simulated over 50 airborne rescue missions. The closest cooperation of the Israeli SAR unit was with the US Army unit: the units created integrated teams and practiced various scenarios for a week. The combined teams flew together aboard the “Black Hawk”, “CH-53” helicopters and V-22 “Osprey” inside a huge training area, stretching over tens of thousands of kilometers in Arizona and New-Mexico.
“The cooperation with the US has benefited both sides”, says Major Omri, commander of 669 SAR School, who took part in the exercise abroad. “We were exposed to the advanced weapons possessed by the US Army and they were exposed to our unique operation methods. We realized that our methods are sometimes very similar, but also that there are many differences between us”.
The units also practiced rescue from built-up areas. The training was conducted in a small village that was built specifically to simulate urban warfare. “They planned everything to the smallest detail with impressive professionalism”, says Captain Dor, deputy commander of the 669 combat soldiers company. “We witnessed things we were not exposed too before and we can certainly learn a lot from them. I am positive we will draw conclusions and adopt relevant operation methods”.