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920th RQW redefines tactics for engaging competitors

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ian Phillips
  • 920th Rescue Wing

The 920th Rescue Wing built upon their capabilities as an organization by reshaping tactics for specific application against competitors in the Indo-Pacific region during Exercise Fury Horizon 21 here April 10.


The day-long event saw Airmen develop, test, and assess new concepts in intelligence analysis, weapons skills, patrol movements, and fighting positions. All critical to gaining insight into how combat situations could potentially evolve.


“Every Airman in this wing is a fighter first, regardless of their AFSC or rank,” said the 920th Rescue Wing commander. “In major combat operations there is no ‘safe haven’ and each must be ready for warfare dynamics that were inconceivable in recent decades. Our realistic training inoculates them to the violence and chaos of war and refines their combat leadership skills so they lead with initiative and tenacity.”


Simulating the expansive distance between Pacific islands, nearly 300 Airmen found themselves isolated on an airfield, communications compromised, with enemy forces closing in on their position.


A heavy-package recovery task force, consisting of eight HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and five HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, was employed to incur a major assault on the objective and rescue the large contingent of isolated personnel. This culminated with the Airmen taking up defensive positions and the rapid on-load of the Airmen to exfiltration aircraft.


“This was the first time our Operations Group exercised this type of force package as opposed to the standard compliment we have been using over the past twenty years,” said the 920th Operations Group deputy commander. “Additionally, the scenario and planning focused on the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility, which provided our Airmen the opportunity to view and overcome different complexities and problem sets they don’t regularly see.”


The 920th Maintenance Group and the 943rd Maintenance Squadron inspected, serviced, and configured all wing aircraft, including several geographically-separated ones that were readied for participation, for a swift deployment.


“Fury Horizon allowed us to perform a mass generation with the entire wing,” said the 920th Maintenance Group commander. “We were in constant contact with the maintenance leaders from the 943rd and the bulk of the work came beforehand as we prepared each aircraft for the event. The entire effort was a lot of planning and long days for our maintainers but was perfectly executed.”


Bringing together the combined knowledge of the entire wing, the launch, aerial refueling, landing plan, and ground combat elements created a unique opportunity for Airmen from across the wing to focus efforts on conducting operations in a hostile location.


While the mission of the 920 RQW is to plan, lead, and conduct military rescue operations to deny competitors and adversaries exploitation of isolated personnel, the wing’s modernization of combat applications builds the capability and capacity of the organization and reminds competitors it poses a formidable threat in isolated or contested environments around the world.