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Combat Search and Rescue in Desert Storm

ISBN: 9781478362357
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: 2012-08-01
Number of pages: 324
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After Southeast Asia, analysts and force planners came to the realization that there was a fundamental difference between search and rescue (SAR) in a permissive area and in an area that was not permissive (i.e., under enemy control). This second condition is now called combat search and rescue or CSAR. At the time of Desert Storm, the two forms of rescue were defined thusly: Search and Rescue (SAR): Use of aircraft, surface craft, submarines, personnel, and equipment to locate and recover personnel in distress on land or at sea. Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR): A specialized SAR task performed by rescue-capable forces to effect recovery of distressed personnel from hostile territory during contingency operations or wartime.2 The development of this rescue capability has been well established. Dr. Robert Futrell documented our efforts in Korea in The United States Air Force in Korea, 1950–1953. His work was followed by Dr. Earl Tilford’s Search and Rescue in South east Asia, which eloquently chronicled the heroic efforts of the rescue crews in that conflict who brought back literally thousands of airmen. It extensively documented what is now considered the “golden age” of rescue. This work is meant to follow in those traditions and will focus on our CSAR efforts in the Persian Gulf War of 1991, or more specifically, the period of Operation Desert Storm, 17 January to 28 February 1991. Overall, CSAR in Desert Storm appears to have been a mixed bag. Because of advances in precision weaponry, Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, countermeasures, and training, relatively few coalition aircraft were shot down. Forty-three coalition aircraft were lost in combat, most over high-threat areas. Eighty-seven coalition airmen, soldiers, sailors, and marines were isolated in enemy or neutral territory. Of that total, 48 were killed, one is still listed as missing, 24 were immediately captured, and 14 were exposed in enemy territory. Of those who survived, most landed in areas controlled by enemy troops. Of the few actually rescueable, six were not rescued for a variety of reasons, but primarily because of limitations in CENTAF’s ability to locate them accurately and in a timely manner.

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