By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan U. Kledzik
Survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) and personnel recovery experts from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet completed joint SERE and post-isolation support activities training during exercise Judicious Response Epic Guardian (JREG) 2019 in Agadir, Morocco, and Rota, Spain, May 1-6, 2019.
JREG provides an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and partnership between the United States, United Kingdom, and Morocco while promoting the capabilities and capacities of these partner nations. In addition, the personnel recovery aspect of the exercise focused on a joint-service civilian evacuation and post-isolation support activities training.
“The personnel recovery portion of this exercise was designed to practice reintegration and post-isolation support activities procedures for a captured civilian journalist in a simulated environment,” said John Carey, the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet personnel recovery director. “Our mission does not stop once we’ve recovered a prisoner of war or an isolated American.”
Following the recovery of captured, missing, or isolated U.S. personnel from uncertain or hostile environments, the Department of Defense implements a robust post-isolation support activity program to ensure a seamless and healthy transition back to society for the recovered individual.
The procedures are designed to maximize efficiency and to return the individual back to full duty, providing a full spectrum of medical care and reintegration support.
"The goal of personnel recovery is to safely and effectively return recovered personnel to their family and to provide any additional medical treatment necessary," said Carey. “Our number one goal here is to provide the service member or American citizen with as much support as possible.”
Holly Jensen, director of public affairs for the hostage recovery fusion cell of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, supported the exercise by simulating the role of an American journalist held captive by a terrorist organization.
“During the exercise I was rescued from captivity by U.S. forces and brought to an airfield in Agadir, where the U.S. Air Force had an aircraft on standby to support my extraction from the area,” said Jensen. “From there I was promptly whisked away to participate in further medical evaluation and treatment.”
A U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II was prepared for the operation following the 352nd Special Operations Wing receiving directions to evacuate Jensen. After taking flight, Jensen and the personnel recovery team arrived at Naval Station Rota for the post-isolation support activities and to conduct the reintegration process.
“The reintegration process includes the recovery of a hostage then subsequently returning them to society, their medical treatment, reintroduction to their families, and provides decompression time while also conserving any intelligence they may have been able to gather to aid in the prosecution of these criminal organizations,” said Jensen.
Naval Station Rota is a major support site for many missions into Africa, and around the Mediterranean. Rota also is one of two locations in the personnel recovery architecture outside of the United States where reintegration occurs. If an event happens, or an individual is isolated, they are brought back to Rota and reintegrated through a dedicated process.
“The methods used are very effective,” said Jensen. “The naval hospital in Rota has a very thorough reintegration process that makes the transition significantly easier.”
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.