By Maj. Tiffany Collins, U.S. Special Operations Command CentralMay 15, 2015
THE HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF JORDAN (USASOC News Service, May 15, 2015) -- U.S. Green Berets, assigned to Task Force Oryx, conducted Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction System, or FRIES, training at the Prince Hashim Royal Air Base, Jordan, May 10, during Exercise Eager Lion 2015. This exercise is an annual, multinational exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships, promote regional security and improve interoperability with partner nations.
The Special Forces Air Operations Field Manual (FM 3-05.210) describes the FRIES method as one employed specifically in situations where the terrain restricts an aircraft from landing. The Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 84 (HSC-84), a U.S. Navy element assigned to Norfolk, Virginia, is dedicated to special operations forces support within the Department of Defense, and supported today's training event.
An HH-60H pilot assigned to the HSC-84 stated, "the objective is to get the team in as fast as possible." Two small teams of seven to ten operators slid down a massive rope at lightning speeds. Not only do the operators conducting fast rope training participate in extensive instruction to certify on this method of infiltration, this is also true of the aircrews that fly FRIES activities. He continued by saying, "the teams' objectives are to gain [fast rope] proficiency at getting down the rope, while the crew gets good practice with holding a steady hover and intercepting at the right point."
Earning its name from the type of rope used during deployments, the fast rope possess inherent risks, therefore it requires great attention to detail from all personnel involved. Crewmembers of the two HH-60H Rescue Hawks provided all participants with a detailed safety brief prior to the execution of training. A Green Beret, assigned to Task Force Oryx, describes fast roping "as having no actual connection points; with air assault you wear a Swiss seat or some type of repelling harness you actually clip into a rope; you just grab on and slide down."
Another Green Beret of the same unit, said "the special forces military occupational specialty requires certification on the FRIES method by all operators." Although operators told us "today's event was familiarization training for an upcoming deployment," they will also use this technique as part of the Exercise Eager Lion 2015 scenario.
Credited with the first recorded fast rope infiltration during a conflict, the British Special Forces employed the FRIES method during the Falklands War. Since that time, several nations adopted this capability as standard operating procedure for their elite forces, including U.S. special operators.
Exercise Eager Lion 2015 is yet another sterling example of why this and the vast array of multi-national exercises, accredited to U.S. Central Command, remain not only valid training opportunities, but vital to security in the Middle East and the United States. The skills honed here, cemented by the relationships fostered throughout the years by partner nation's special operations forces ensure the next generation of interoperability among the world's elite forces.