Airmen and Soldiers Conduct Joint Training

Green Beret helocasts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
A Green Beret assigned to 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) helocasts into American Lake from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, June 30, 2020. (Staff Sgt. Ryan Hohman/U.S. Army)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Airmen and soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord participated in a water training exercise at American Lake here July 14 and 15, 2014.

Airmen from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron's Red Team practiced helocasting alternate insertion and extraction training with soldiers from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Helocasting is an airborne technique used by special operations forces units for amphibious insertion into a military area of operation. The unit is flown in by an aircraft, in this case an MH-47 Chinook helicopter, to an insertion point above the water where the STS members jumped out of the helo and into the water.

The 160th SOAR was tasked with AIE training and called the STS in hopes their airmen would have the training requirement to take part in the exercise. The Red Team had not practiced AIEs in some time and agreed to join in the two-day training.

During that span, the group conducted 10 daytime helocast iterations and eight nighttime helocast iterations. Their operations included soft duck insertions, which involved personnel pushing an inflated zodiac boat out of the back of the helicopter into the water and jumping in after it; ladder training; and hoist training.

"As combat controllers, we can attach to Navy [special operations forces], Operational Detachment Alpha or Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, so we have to be smart on every type of infil and exfil," said Staff Sgt. Dallas Stoll, 22nd STS combat controller. "This is why we practice fast roping, helocast master and repelling, which are all counted as AIEs."

As one of the most currently trained helocast masters available, Stoll was chosen to be the STS team leader for the exercise to ensure the members of Red Team could get the proper upgrade training.

To become a helocast master, an airman must be an E-4 or above, signed off by the unit commander and have two daytime iterations and two nighttime iterations, one with non-combat equipment and one with combat equipment each.

"As a helocast master, it's my responsibility to ensure my airmen don't jump from the aircraft unless we're 10 feet above the water and moving no faster than 10 knots of airspeed," Stoll said. "Once we're in that profile, I ensure my guys unhook, get out and get accounted for in the water as safely as possible."

Soldiers from the 160th SOAR needed to accomplish the upgrade training for helocasting special operations forces members out of their aircraft. They used this opportunity to train for extracting members from the water via a rope ladder and hoist methods as well.

The 22nd STS is a unit of the 24th Special Operations Wing based at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The primary mission of the 24th SOW is to provide special tactics forces for rapid global employment to enable airpower success.

The 24th SOW is U.S. Special Operations Command's tactical air and ground integration force and the Air Force's special operations ground force to enable global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations.

In addition to AIEs, STS members train in high altitude low opening and static-line parachute jumps, demolition, controlling landing zones and helicopter landing zones.

Airmen from the STS can attach to numerous outside units across the Defense Department and must be proficient in just about everything.

This exercise again proved that soldiers and airmen from Joint Base Lewis-McChord can train together, fight together and run a base together.

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