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Airmen, Marines 'TRAPped' in desert

I Marine Force Expeditionary Force members from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., load downed aircrew members into an MV-22 Osprey as part of a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M.  During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

I Marine Force Expeditionary Force members from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., load downed aircrew members into an MV-22 Osprey as part of a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mykal Sequeria, a 563d Operations Supportion Squadron rigger assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., role plays as an opposition force member and takes aim at an HH-60G Pave Hawk during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mykal Sequeria, a 563d Operations Supportion Squadron rigger assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., role plays as an opposition force member and takes aim at an HH-60G Pave Hawk during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

An HH-60G Pave Hawk descends to land in support of a U.S. Air Force and Marine joint exercise as part of a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

An HH-60G Pave Hawk descends to land in support of a U.S. Air Force and Marine joint exercise as part of a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

Members of the I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., advance the desert during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

Members of the I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., advance the desert during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., communicate with mock friendly locals in a Southwest Asian bazaar in search of the whereabouts of downed aircrew members during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., communicate with mock friendly locals in a Southwest Asian bazaar in search of the whereabouts of downed aircrew members during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

A Marine from the I Marine Expeditionary Force assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., asks a mock Southwest Asian local in a bazaar about the whereabouts of a downed aircrew during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

A Marine from the I Marine Expeditionary Force assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., asks a mock Southwest Asian local in a bazaar about the whereabouts of a downed aircrew during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., advance the desert during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., advance the desert during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

A U.S. Marine from the I Marine Expeditionary Force located at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., fends off enemy fire as his counterpart assesses an injured team member’s wound during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

A U.S. Marine from the I Marine Expeditionary Force located at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., fends off enemy fire as his counterpart assesses an injured team member’s wound during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

Mock friendly locals from a Southwest Asian bazaar escort a U.S. Marine aircrew member during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

Mock friendly locals from a Southwest Asian bazaar escort a U.S. Marine aircrew member during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash)

A member of the I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., secures the perimeter of a landing zone during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)
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A member of the I Marine Expeditionary Force from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., secures the perimeter of a landing zone during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

Mock opposition forces from the 563d Operations Support Squadron assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., engage in a firefight with U.S. Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force located at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)
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Mock opposition forces from the 563d Operations Support Squadron assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., engage in a firefight with U.S. Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force located at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., during a simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, Feb 22, 2017, at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M. During the scenario, the IMEF rescued isolated personnel from a downed aircraft while fending off mock opposition forces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.’s 563d Operations Support Squadron. This joint effort prepared the IMEF by completing their Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force certification. This is the culmination of their crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries In Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

The thunderous sound of an MV-22 Osprey echoes over an open field as it lands. Emerging from its lowered door is the I Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Pendleton, California, who advance on the New Mexican desert to fulfill their objective: find the downed aircrew and bring them home safely.

During the simulated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel scenario, the IMEF’s capabilities were tested by Airmen from the 563rd Operations Support Squadron assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, in a joint exercise as part of their Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force certification training Feb. 22 at the Playas Training and Research Center, N.M.

“We evaluated the (IMEF’s) ability to conduct a TRAP mission prior to their deployment,” said U.S. Marines Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Benson, Playas Training and Research Center SP MAGTF exercise site lead. “The best way to examine their recovery capabilities was to paint the most realistic simulated scenario to develop targets for both Marine ground forces and the Air Force pilots providing close air support.

“The 563rd OSS brought a lot of knowledge of the capabilities of the aircraft supporting the mission and allowed the scenario to replicate the most authentic events to help drive the training to benefit all players in the evolution,” Benson added. 

During the scenario, an aircraft went down from a mechanical failure and its crew members were isolated in a potentially dangerous area. Friendly local populace discovered the aircrew and helped safeguard them from enemy forces, protecting them inside a mock Middle Eastern market place. After the aircrew radioed for the IMEF reinforcements, the Marines scouted the area, recovering the survivors.

Amid the IMEF’s pursuit, they fended off Airmen from the 563rd OSS, a geographically-separated unit assigned to the 23rd Wing located at Moody Air Force Base as they role played opposition forces to better test the Marines TRAP skills.

“Supplying people and equipment to play in these exercises [directly invests] into the readiness of [service members] going downrange,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeremiah Burleson, 563rd OSS weapons and tactics flight commander. “We want to make the best and the most realistic scenarios so that the training environment is as close to the real thing as possible.

“Even though the real thing may feel different, the more accurate we can be now, the less of a shock it is for these guys when they go downrange,” Burleson added.

Because of the ground force threats, the Marines relied on Air Force air support to help neutralize the mock insurgents, eventually completing their mission. As the MV-22 descended, it was the ability of the Air Force’s Airmen to mesh with the Marines mission readiness practices that was the most impressionable aspect in Burleson’s evaluations, who role played as the exercises Air Force liaison mission planner.

“It’s important to understand another services strengths and be on the same accord in joint operations,” said Burleson. “Training environments like these accomplishes this by allowing the face-to-face interactions to ask questions and learn lessons to better execute downrange. Each service may have different terminologies and intricacies in their processes. Training together secures common ground with understanding.

Benson credited the training, saying this joint understanding will serve the IMEF well after the completion of the SP MAGTF certification training. The training is the culmination of the unit’s crisis response operations before deploying to the United States Central Command, which consists of 20 countries in Northeast Africa across the Middle East to Central and South Asia.

“The deployment (the IMEF) is going on is a joint operation,” Benson said. “Both teams bring a lot of muscle to the fight, and when combined, it's an impressive capability our country has.”