Misawa pilots evade capture during CST
DRAUGHON RANGE, Japan -- A combat survival training exercise was held at Draughon Range, Sept. 9, 2015.
The exercise was designed to train 35th Fighter Wing pilots how to avoid capture by enemy forces if they ever find themselves egressed on the frontline.
"For pilots, it is a requirement for them to be combat mission ready," said Staff Sgt. Jason Allchin, 35th Operations Support Squadron survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist. "Pilots are isolated and have to navigate toward friendly forces while avoiding the enemy. Details for the exercise are masked to keep the pilots surprised."
Held monthly, CSTs bring together Airmen from various agencies throughout the 35 FW as volunteers whose roles range from harmless civilians to armed combatants.
"As an opposition force member, your sole job is to hunt down and hopefully capture these pilots by any means necessary," said Airman 1st Class Brian A. Pavlinec, 35th Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance journeyman and avid CST volunteer. "The role I am typically in is an overseer. I communicate with the pilots and ultimately advise and guide them to their extraction point."
In order to simulate an environment conducive to surviving, evading, resisting and escaping, the CSTs take place in a densely forested area - perfect for two teams of approximately 20 people to re-create enemy lines.
"As an enemy combatant, you are armed with a replica gun, some urban camouflage and the knowledge that these pilots have killed your fellow countrymen," said Pavlinec.
The exercise, which only lasts one day in "enemy territory," actually takes weeks of preparation time beforehand, ensuring every participant and working piece is coordinated and ready to go.
"The training can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to plan and prepare for," said Allchin. "The 35th Aircrew Flight Equipment flight, 35 LRS, and the SERE team all work together allowing these CSTs to play out without discrepancy."
When survival packs are ready, medical teams on stand-by and pilots freshly ejected from their aircraft - the exercise and hunt begins, providing pilots an essential component to their training and mission.
"Our CSTs are extremely important to the mission here, mainly because of our location and our proximity to some crucial nations, we are one of the final lines of defense, should something happen," said Pavlinec. "Because pilots only get this training every few years, it is a crucial piece for their mission."