Pacific Air Commandos support Foal Eagle 2017

DAEGU AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group worked with joint and combined partners during the large-scale Foal Eagle 2017 (FE17) exercise, which took place March 23 through April 10, 2017 at various locations throughout the Republic of Korea (ROK).

“The dedication to the longstanding partnership with the ROK is evident by our annual commitment of special operations forces (SOF) and specialized aviation,” said Col. William Freeman, 353rd SOG commander. “As the largest exercise for the group, FE17 provided an opportunity to demonstrate operational readiness and execute full mission capabilities.”

The 353rd SOG worked in close relationship with counterparts from the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) 255th Special Operations Squadron throughout the exercise to enhance SOF capabilities.

“This year we focused on further developing our interoperability with our partners from the 255th SOS through tactics, communication and aircraft maintenance exchange, as well as daily airborne operations to include military free fall and static line drops,” said Lt. Col. Sid Kennedy, 353rd SOG mission commander for FE17. “These targeted tactical exchanges in flight, maintenance and combat control strengthen the relationship with our ROK counterparts.”

The combined airborne operations performed during Foal Eagle 2017 reinforced the ROK-U.S. alliance and demonstrated one of the many alliance capabilities available for the defense of the ROK.

“In addition to working with our ROK partners, we have been able to increase interoperability with our joint partners from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and III Marine Expeditionary Force,” said Kennedy. “Utilizing air support from our MC-130s and the army’s MH-47s, our 320th Special Tactics Squadron operators conducted tactical-level exchanges with III MEF and their ROK counterparts in military free fall, static line drop and personnel recovery.”

Aircrew from the 1st and 17th Special Operations Squadron received a refresher on survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) training during the exercise’s personnel recovery event.

“We simulated that our MC-130 crash landed, and I sustained injuries while bailing out of the aircraft,” said Capt. Steven Conradi, 1st Special Operations Squadron pilot. “Our SERE instructors did a great job of simulating what you’d actually be feeling if you were in a situation like this and provided hands-on training to keep us current in the knowledge and skill level needed to return with honor.”

In addition to providing survival training to aircrew, the SERE instructors and exercise planners from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron created a complex training mission for the joint personnel recovery team performing the rescue.

“Foal Eagle presents a unique opportunity to evaluate our readiness and execute critical training objectives through special tactics missions, air operations, aircraft maintenance and mission support functions,” said Freeman. “I want to thank our friends and allies for making the success of this exercise possible and we look forward to next year.”

Foal Eagle is an annual Joint Chief of Staff exercise based on realistic tactical requirements and missions expected of the ROK-U.S. combined and joint forces assuming various threats.