The Army News Service released information that a team of thirteen Navy SEALs based on the West Coast trained with Army pilots in Alaska. The Army pilots belonged to Task Force 49, 1-52 Aviation Battalion, B Company – also known as the “Sugar Bears”. The purpose of the training was to “promote and develop interoperability” between the Army and the Navy.
The exercise was performed as part of Northern Edge 2009, which belong to a series of exercises being conducted by the US Pacific Command. These exercises are an effort towards preparing joint forces in responding to crisis that may occur in the Asia Pacific region.
Part of the training was troop transportation; SEALs are deposited in an area through the back ramp of a CH-47D Chinook helicopter. SEALs exit the helicopter with their weapons up, setting up security while the Chinook lifted off from its two wheel landing. The helicopter circles in the air before landing again so that the procedure can be repeated. More than just a training exercise for the SEALs, the exercise also gave the Army pilots a chance to practice troop transportation. While this is a skill that Army pilots generally possess and is a large part of their responsibilities, it is an activity that the Sugar Bears have not engaged in lately, since their ground units were currently deployed.
The two-wheel landing technique is employed when there is a need to drop troops in confined spaces that cannot accommodate conventional landings, such as mountainous terrain and rooftops.
The Navy SEALs, for their part, gained a lot from being given the opportunity to work with Chinook helicopters, an aircraft that they do not usually work with. Through the exercise, they learned how to get on and off the Chinook quickly, should this aircraft be use for insertion and extraction during real situations.
The pilots performed insertion exercises with the SEALs in three different locations. In each location, the SEALs practiced leaving the Chinook quickly and establishing security on the ground. Once completed, they proceeded with properly reboarding the aircraft, all the while maintaining a security element.