Racers Train for Search and Rescue Operations

  • Published
  • By Maj. Frank Howard
  • 181st IW Executive Staff Officer
From February 22-24, 2013, the 181st Intelligence Wing and the Civil Air Patrol partnered for the first time in a search and rescue exercise at Hulman Field in Terre Haute, Ind.
During this exercise, CAP and local first responders, supported by Air Guardsmen from the 181 IW, worked side-by-side, refining critical teambuilding skills in joint command settings.

Traditionally, the 181 IW provides logistical and facilities support to the CAP.

This year, Racers from the 181 IW Intelligence Group and Weather Flight volunteered to provid updates and analysis to both ground and air teams to increase safety and operational effectiveness.

"We have taken 12 years of combat operations and lessons learned and are applying those skills to assist the CAP in search and rescue operations," said Master Sgt. Greg Hrovat.

Exercise Restless Tomahawk is a yearly CAP exercise designed to train the CAP, 181 IW, and other city and county first responders to successfully work together in the air, on the ground, and in the command center to conduct search and rescue operations.

This year's multi-agency exercise included five CAP aircraft, multiple ground vehicles and canine search and rescue.

During the exercise, the efforts of all organizations resulted in the recovery of a lost civilian pilot and a missing hunter.

The aerial teams used airborne search grids, while ground teams utilized signal direction finding equipment, to search for and hone in on the missing individuals.

181 IW members used, "...open source information and systems to collect, plot and analyze the search teams' data to provide CAP commanders a single-source common operating picture," said Sergeant Hrovat.

Overall, around 140 people participated in Restless Tomahawk from agencies such as the Riley and Vigo County Emergency Management Agency, the Wabash Valley Chapter of the Red Cross, the Riley and Seelyville Fire Departments, Vigo County Search & Rescue, the Hamilton Center and the Amateur Radio Emergency Services.

"It is these multi-agency exercises that allow the Wing to hone our domestic operations skills and enable the Racers to better serve the Wabash Valley and State in times of crisis," said 181 IW Commander Col. Donald Bonte.