Third Army boosts personnel recovery
October 21, 2010
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - Third Army is taking the Warrior Ethos, 'I will never leave a fallen comrade,' one step further by implementing a reenergized program dedicated to recovering personnel who become isolated within Kuwait.
Personnel recovery is defined as the sum of military, diplomatic, and civil efforts to effect the recovery and return of US military personnel, Department of Defense civilians and contractors who are isolated in an operational environment, or as determined by the Secretary of Defense.
The goal of Third Army's Personnel Recovery Council is to integrate policies and track readiness for the entire Central Command area of responsibility. The unified council will act as command and control and be able to execute PR missions smartly and effectively at any given time in Kuwait.
"This is the growth of a great solution set," said Maj. Tim Vibbert, an Aviation Operations Officer and Personnel Recovery Officer with Third Army. "It's extremely important because the environment here is changing every day."
But the three steps of PR, preparation, planning and execution, never change.
During the preparation phase, Third Army's PR team established a PR Council by reaching out to reconnect with leaders within the Army, Navy, Air Force and Host Nation. This council is responsible for all of Third Army's PR operations. This means they must establish policy and track readiness throughout multiple countries in their area of operation.
"We're also giving our full efforts to increasing awareness of the importance of PR," Vibbert said. "We want everyone to understand what their risks of isolation are and take the necessary steps before they travel. Everyone needs to have a rock-solid Pro-File for their (Isolated Personnel Report) to assist us should they become isolated."
Planning also plays a vital role in the event of a real-world PR mission. These combined assets must communicate effectively and smartly throughout multiple chains of command and with host-nation support.
The PR team members participated in a 'crawl phase' training exercise Oct. 14. During this planning phase, an isolated Soldier was left stranded in the desert. Chief Warrant Officer Michael Anderson, a Blackhawk pilot with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment and native of Bourne, Mass., played the role of the isolated Soldier.
"[During the exercise] I became isolated and used my training to find concealment and send my location up to be rescued," Anderson said. "The information went through the proper channels and a PR Recovery team was dispatched and located me in just a few minutes."
The PR council plans on continuing these exercises. In the coming months, the training will become more complex, utilizing aircraft and naval assets, in order to coordinate the tools needed for the job.
"We want everyone to get smart on the tools and equipment available that can help an isolated person--namely Personal Locator Beacon and Combat Survivor Evader Locator radios, evasion charts and Blood Chits," Vibbert said. " The greater the familiarity our force has with these requirements and tools, the greater Third Army's readiness will be for Personnel Recovery."
This training, along with the preparation, will help in the successful execution of an actual PR mission.
"That's why we train," Anderson said. "The goal is to locate the individual and bring them back home."
Third Army is taking the PR mission one step further by educating Servicemembers on the PR mission. For more information about PR and how to better prepare yourself and your unit contact Maj. Tim Vibbert at DSN 430-5700 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.