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News | Sept. 23, 2020

Protecting valuable assets: JTF-B conducts personnel recovery training

By Lance Corporal José González Joint Task Force Bravo Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Major Cory Turner, Joint Task Force-Bravo personnel recovery coordination cell director, led training during a two-week emergency deployment readiness exercise at Trujillo Bay, Honduras.

“As the director of the personnel recovery coordination cell, I’m responsible for integrating the joint response to any isolating event that happens inside of our joint operating area,” said Turner.

Specialized training and years of service have equipped Turner to lead JTF-B in an exercise of this magnitude. U.S. Air Force personnel recovery experts are required to attend personnel recovery execution courses put on by the joint personnel recovery agency as part of their training. These are important because they prepare members to coordinate and synchronize a joint response to an isolating event, like a downed helicopter.

JTF-B fulfills this essential role for USSOUTHCOM’s international mission set.

“We are SOUTHCOM’s only forward deployed unit,” said Turner. “In the event an American or Department of Defense member becomes isolated in Central or South America, we’re primarily going to be the response forces. We are the only people poised to be able to respond in a quick amount of time.”

With this unique challenge comes unique circumstances for members as their operations put them flying over water on a consistent basis. Here is where survival, escape, resistance, and escape training and personnel recovery experts assist the task force in training.

“Personnel recovery is a very important part of the Air Force’s core mission sets, so I was excited to be able to come and be able to be part of the PR mission at Soto Cano Air Base and be able to bring what the Air Force does to this joint environment.”

Personnel recovery is a lifesaving skill set in dire situations, thus making the training in Trujillo invaluable to the task force.

“PRCC plays a significant role in this exercise as it is primarily focused on survival and recovery,” said Turner. “This exercise focused on a scenario where an aircraft has to ditch over water, putting the service members in a situation where they need to egress an aircraft safely over water and be able to survive in a life raft for an extended period of time... and if necessary, self-recover.”

Personnel recovery is a constant effort for those not only in training but for those who train as well.

 “My job has an operational mindset,” explained Turner. “We’re tracking all the missions that happen throughout the joint operating area, and we’re constantly preparing to recover should the situation ever arise,” said Turner. Ultimately, he added, the training gives pilots, aircrew, and other task force personnel confidence in their ability to handle an emergency when operating over water. In the future, the task force hopes to build on this training and integrate partner nations as well as rely on the skills learned for larger, joint, multinational operations.

Turner and the personnel recovery coordination cell have played a vital role for not only JTF-B’s mission but U.S. Southern Command’s priorities by providing practical, relevant training that will serve members well after they leave JTF-B and into the rest of their careers.

“I’m incredibly proud to have been in this training. I can’t express how happy and proud that all the members that had come through this have successfully passed and done a great job,” said Turner. “Should they ever have to put this into practice, I know they would be prepared and that’s what I’m most proud of.”