Personnel recovery training to begin for all Soldiers
By J.D. Leipold
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 26, 2006) – The Warrior Ethos, “I will never leave a fallen comrade,” makes clear the Army’s commitment to recover Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and its contractors should they be lost, isolated, missing, detained or captured while in an operational environment.
Beginning in November, the Army’s Personnel Recovery Branch will kick off formal personnel recovery training to all units slated for deployment. The goal is to train all Soldiers in personnel recovery tactics, techniques and procedures within the next 24-48 months according to Col. Timothy Waters, chief, Personnel Recovery Branch.
“The chief of staff of the Army and the director of the Army staff find personnel recovery training to be a vital requirement for every operations plan,” said Waters. “Even though we can train all Soldiers initially, training will have to be maintained.
“Personnel recovery training will be included in all Soldier readiness programs, in unit training, drill schedules for the Reserve and National Guard, and in monthly training schedules for the active component so it becomes second nature,” he said.
Personnel recovery training will eventually be taught at basic and advanced individual training, as well as officer basic and advanced training.
In the past, personnel recovery was relegated to a specific force, but publication of Field Manual 3-50.1, “Army Personnel Recovery,” makes it official doctrine that applies to all Soldiers. This is a significant change, Waters said, because now a procedural system will be in place that is understood at individual to command levels.
Waters said the first 15 of 60 Reserve and National Guard Soldiers are in the final stages of their formal training as instructors in personnel recovery tactics, techniques and procedures. Following completion, they will be deployed to force deployment platforms and continental U.S. replacement centers to train Soldiers preparing to deploy, and in-theater to train Soldiers already deployed.
Personnel recovery training will include such recovery tasks as reporting, locating, supporting, recovering and returning/reintegrating.
Individual training will also be available in classified and unclassified formats and include survival, evasion, resistance and escape techniques, as well as the Code of Conduct
Today, in an asymmetric battlefield where it’s hard to distinguish friend from foe, FM 3-50.1 formally acknowledges it’s no longer solely special operations or aviation units at risk of capture or detainment, it’s all Soldiers – including transportation specialists, military police, civil affairs units and transition teams.
“We’ve always gone after those who are isolated, missing, detained or captured; there’s no change in mindset. We now recognize all Soldiers to be at risk because of a battlefield that doesn’t have lines and an enemy who could be around the corner,” Waters said. “Before, when you put a Soldier in Baghdad in a truck and he made a wrong turn he could, in fact, fall into enemy hands without our expectation of that. Now, we’ll be preparing for those things to happen through the training starting in November.”
FM 3-50.1 is available at Army Knowledge Online, www.us.army.mil and at the Training and Doctrine digital library, www.train.army.mil.