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No day at the beach for JBLM Soldiers and Airmen

Joint tactics training on American Lake aids Airmen, Soldiers

62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Published: 11:22PM July 24th, 2014
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Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson

An Airman jumps out of an MH-47 Chinook helicopter during helocast alternate insertion and extraction training with Soldiers from the 160th SOAR July 14, at American Lake on JBLM. The Airmen from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron conducted 10 daytime helocast iterations and eight nighttime helocast iterations over a two-day span. The Airman is assigned to the 22nd STSÕ Red Team.

Airmen and Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord practiced amphibious special-operations tactics during a water training exercise at American Lake July 14 and 15.

Airmen from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron’s Red Team practiced helocasting alternate insertion and extraction training with Soldiers from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Helocasting is an airborne technique used by Special Operations forces units for amphibious insertion into a military area of operation.

The unit is flown in by an aircraft, in this case an MH-47 Chinook helicopter, to an insertion point above water where the STS members jumped out of the helicopter.

The 160th SOAR was tasked with alternate insertion and extraction training. They made the call to the 22nd STS in hopes their Airmen would be able to take part in the exercise.

Red Team had not practiced alternate insertion and extractions in some time and agreed to join in the two-day training exercise.

During that span, the group conducted 10 daytime helocast iterations and eight nighttime helocast iterations. Their operations included soft-duck insertions, which involved personnel pushing an inflated zodiac boat out of the back of the helicopter into the water and jumping in after it, as well as ladder training and hoist training.

“As combat controllers, we can attach to Navy (Special Operations Forces), Operational Detachment Alpha, or Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, so we have to be smart on every type of infil and exfil,” said Staff Sgt. Dallas Stoll, a 22nd STS combat controller. “This is why we practice fast roping, helocast master and repelling, which are all counted as (alternate insertion and extractions).”

As one of the most current helocast masters available, Stoll was chosen to be the STS team leader for the exercise to ensure the members of Red Team could get the proper upgrade training.

To become a helocast master, an Airman must be a senior Airman or above, be signed off by the unit commander, and have two daytime iterations and two nighttime iterations — each with non-combat and combat equipment.

“As a helocast master, it’s my responsibility to ensure my Airmen don’t jump from the aircraft unless we’re 10 feet above the water and moving no faster than 10 knots of airspeed,” Stoll said. “Once we’re in that profile, I ensure my guys unhook, get out and get accounted for in the water as safely as possible.”

Soldiers from the 160th SOAR needed to accomplish the upgrade training for helocasting special operations forces members out of their aircraft. They used this opportunity to train for extracting members from the water via a rope ladder and hoist methods as well.

The 22nd STS is a unit of the 24th Special Operations Wing based at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The primary mission of the 24th SOW is to provide special tactics forces for rapid global employment to enable airpower success, Dallas said.

In addition to AIEs, STS members train in high-altitude, low-opening and static line parachute jumps, demolition, controlling landing zones and helicopter landing zones.

The 24th SOW is U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical air and ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force to enable global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations.