NEWS | Feb. 1, 2021

U.S., Italian soldiers train to save lives and equipment

By Story by Capt. Travis Mueller 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade

Elements of the U.S. and Italian armed forces, currently serving in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, recently trained together in a downed aircraft recovery exercise in northern Iraq.

Soldiers with the U.S. Army’s Task Force Gambler and the Italian army’s Airmobile Task Group Griffon came together to respond to a simulated emergency where an Italian NH90 tactical transport helicopter went down in enemy territory.

During the simulation, a security force and a downed aircraft recovery team was quickly flown to the area in what is called an aerial reaction force. Once the area was secured, an Italian technical team evaluated the aircraft and performed repairs on the notional mechanical failures. The helicopter was then moved back to base for further maintenance.

According to Lt. Col. Jason Woodward, commander of Task Force Gambler, relations between coalition partners are strengthened during joint exercises such as this one. He also says the training ensures that the unique skills and abilities of coalition partners can be utilized to ensure the lasting defeat of Daesh.

“Ensuring our interoperability makes us all safer, more efficient and better prepared to respond to mission requirements,” said Woodward. “I am honored to serve alongside our brave Italian partners in accomplishing our shared mission."

A downed aircraft recovery team, or DART, responds to aircraft emergencies. They are trained to react, with little notice and in a combat environment, to recover personnel and make necessary repairs on helicopters or otherwise move damaged aircraft off a battlefield.

Task Force Gambler is made up primarily of Soldiers with the 4-4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion and other units serving under the 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade. Airmobile Task Group Griffon is made up of soldiers with Italian army aviation, and was led by Lt. Col. Andrea Seminara during the exercise.