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US Rescue Squadrons, MC-130J support personnel recovery exercise in Croatia

A Croatian Special Police officer stands guard while 57th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescuemen, stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, evacuate simulated casualties from a car during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise at the Police Academy, Croatia, March 18, 2019. The 31st Fighter Wing's partnership with Croatia is built upon shared values and experiences. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A Croatian Special Police officer stands guard while 57th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescuemen, stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, evacuate simulated casualties from a car during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise at the Police Academy, Croatia, March 18, 2019. The 31st Fighter Wing's partnership with Croatia is built upon shared values and experiences. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 57th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescueman, stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, stabilizes a simulated causality during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise at the Police Academy, Croatia, March 18, 2019. The 31st Fighter Wing and the 352nd Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, partnered with the government of Croatia and the U.S. Embassy Zagreb to test their abilities to plan and execute emergency response during a crisis.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 57th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescueman, stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, stabilizes a simulated causality during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise at the Police Academy, Croatia, March 18, 2019. The 31st Fighter Wing and the 352nd Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, partnered with the government of Croatia and the U.S. Embassy Zagreb to test their abilities to plan and execute emergency response during a crisis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 56th Rescue Squadron special mission aviator, stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, surveys a landing zone during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise near Zagreb, Croatia, March 18, 2019. Special mission aviators survey landing zones and update aircraft crew members on rescue operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 56th Rescue Squadron special mission aviator, stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, surveys a landing zone during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise near Zagreb, Croatia, March 18, 2019. Special mission aviators survey landing zones and update aircraft crew members on rescue operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

57th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescuemen, stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, perform medical evacuation procedures on simulated casualties during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise near Zagreb, Croatia, March 18, 2019. Pararescuemen provided personnel recovery and casualty evacuation expertise to the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

57th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescuemen, stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, perform medical evacuation procedures on simulated casualties during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise near Zagreb, Croatia, March 18, 2019. Pararescuemen provided personnel recovery and casualty evacuation expertise to the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk, based out of Aviano Air Base, Italy, transports simulated casualties during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise near Zagreb, Croatia, March 18, 2019. NEO exercises simulate the ordered or authorized departure of civilians and non-essential military personnel from danger in an overseas country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk, based out of Aviano Air Base, Italy, transports simulated casualties during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise near Zagreb, Croatia, March 18, 2019. NEO exercises simulate the ordered or authorized departure of civilians and non-essential military personnel from danger in an overseas country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Croatian Special Police officers recover a simulated casualty during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise at the Police Academy, Croatia, March 18, 2019. Approximately 50 U.S. Embassy Zagreb employees volunteered to role-play evacuees and casualties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Croatian Special Police officers recover a simulated casualty during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise at the Police Academy, Croatia, March 18, 2019. Approximately 50 U.S. Embassy Zagreb employees volunteered to role-play evacuees and casualties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

57th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescuemen, from Aviano Air Base, Italy, work with Croatian Special Police during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise at the Police Academy, Croatia, March 18, 2019. The exercise simulated a catastrophic earthquake where U.S. Embassy Zagreb personnel were evacuated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

57th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescuemen, from Aviano Air Base, Italy, work with Croatian Special Police during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise at the Police Academy, Croatia, March 18, 2019. The exercise simulated a catastrophic earthquake where U.S. Embassy Zagreb personnel were evacuated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Croatian Police Academy students role-play a mob during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise at the Police Academy, Croatia, March 18, 2019. In a real-world scenario, a gathering crowd of on-lookers may arise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Croatian Police Academy students role-play a mob during a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise at the Police Academy, Croatia, March 18, 2019. In a real-world scenario, a gathering crowd of on-lookers may arise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy. --

The 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons worked closely with the 352nd Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, in support of the U.S. Embassy Zagreb Non-combatant Evacuation Operation, NEO, exercise in Zagreb, Croatia, March 18, 2019.

The exercise rehearsed the embassy’s personnel evacuation procedures in the event of a natural disaster that destroys most infrastructure in the city’s vicinity.

Multiple scenarios were set up where the 57th RQS Guardian Angel pararescuemen provided medical assistance and personnel recovery onto U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawks of the 56th RQS.

“Personnel recovery is the core function of HH-60Gs,” said Capt Brookes Louder, 31st Operations Support Squadron chief of combat search and rescue tactics. “Bringing this mission capability to our regional partners and letting them know we have this capability and have exercised this capability in the past is really important to us.”

U.S. Air Force members also worked with Croatian Special Police to rescue a volunteer role-playing as the U.S. ambassador from an immobilized vehicle.

“We have built amazing in-roads with the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense here in Croatia; as well as our U.S. Embassy partners,” said Louder. “One of the things that was absolutely amazing through this, was the support we received from the country of Croatia.”

The proven partnership with Croatia has been built upon shared values and experiences.

Aviano’s strategic location in Europe enables it to provide rapid emergency response to NATO allies and partners.

One of the 31st Fighter Wing’s top priorities is the safety and security of American citizens. NEO exercises enhance the wing’s evacuation tactics, creating a more secure operation for U.S. civilian non-combatants and nonessential personnel overseas.

At a moment’s notice, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa are able to mobilize units in support of the Department of State. The NEO exercise was a unique opportunity to conduct a joint large-scale operation in support of the DoS and U.S. Embassy Zagreb.

The 352nd SOW provided a highly-capable MC-130J Commando II which conducted low-level air refueling for the special operation helicopters and simulated the mass departure of civilians from harm.

 “We were able to execute all the core tasks that where given to us and we did it in an expeditious manner,” said Louder, “100% team effort across the board on the U.S. military side.”