Combat search and rescue under new command

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Air Combat Command took administrative control of select Air Force combat search and rescue assets from Air Force Special Operations Command April 3 as part of a realignment announced in February.

Nellis’ 563rd Rescue Group/Operation Location-Alpha was one of the active-duty units affected by the transfer. Under ACC, CSAR assets can be mobilized faster during a national crisis, integrated into combat training and tasked to support all air and space expeditionary force rotations, ACC officials said.

According to a memorandum released March 19, U.S. Air Force combat search and rescue crews have made 650+ recoveries in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, in addition to performing more than 5,500 saves in support of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita relief efforts.

The move has been seamless and transparent to the Airmen, said Col. Rick Ragaller, 563rd RQG/OL-A deputy group commander. “The mission, the faces and how we conduct business are the same,” he said.

Being under ACC direction will provide a clearer presentation of CSAR in theatre and a better monitoring and tasking of the low density/high demand mission for all combatant commanders, said Ragaller.

The move to ACC is administrative and will not affect deployment rotations, nor will affected units be relocated. Affected by the transfer are most active-duty operational HH-60 Pave Hawks, HC-130s, and most combat rescue officers and pararescuemen, as well as the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley AFB, Va.

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