How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan - We Are The Mighty
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How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

US Air Force Pararescue specialists, or PJs, are one of the most elite special operators in the world.

Consisting of about 500 airmen, PJs “rescue and recover downed aircrews from hostile or otherwise unreachable areas,” according to the Air Force.

These “highly trained experts perform rescues in every type of terrain and partake in every part of the mission, from search and rescue, to combat support to providing emergency medical treatment, in order to ensure that every mission is a successful one.”

“One of the challenges [in Afghanistan] is the altitude and terrain because we are surrounded by mountains,” Maj. Jason Egger, 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron commander at Bagram Airfield, said in a Defense Department news release on the training.

“We overcome that challenge by working with the Army pilots, which gives us the capability to get to the altitude we need and insert the teams,” Egger added.

Here’s how PJs rescue troops in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.


How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

US Air Force PJs on the ground during a training mission in Afghanistan on Nov. 5, 2018.

(US Air Force photo)

How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

A CH-47 Chinook helicopter takes off during a PJ training mission in Afghanistan in November 2018.

(US Air Force photo)

After getting a call, the PJs load into an Army CH-47 Chinook, which they often use for transports in rescue missions in Afghanistan.

“Most of the central and northern Afghanistan area is very high altitude, and that’s where the CH-47s can really provide some special capability because of their ability to get to that high altitude area and insert the team,” Eggers said.

Read more about Chinooks here.

How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

A CH-47 Chinook helicopter flies over an MRAP during a PJ training mission on Nov. 5, 2018 in Afghanistan.

(US Air Force photo)

How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

An Air Force PJ fast-ropes down to the ground during a training mission in Afghanistan on Nov. 5, 2018.

(US Air Force photo)

At the site, PJs fast-rope down to the ground to get the troops in need.

PJs can also insert from higher altitudes, and therefore train in high altitude jumps from fixed-wing aircraft.

How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

PJ operators perform rescues during a training mission in Afghanistan in November 2018.

(US Air Force photo)

How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

A PJ operator helps an service member with a simulated injury during a training mission in Afghanistan in November 2018.

(US Air Force photo)

How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

PJs provide first aid to wounded service members during a training mission in Afghanistan in November 2018. The wounds were simulated for the training’s realism.

(US Air Force photo)

How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

PJs flying in Chinook helicopters during a training mission in Afghanistan in November 2018.

(US Air Force photo)

How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

PJs carrying a service member with a simulated wound during a training mission in Afghanistan in November 2018.

(US Air Force photo)

How the elite PJs rescue troops in the mountains of Afghanistan

PJs conduct combat arms training Nov. 1, 2018 at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

(US Air Force photo)

But PJs also undergo intense combat arms training as well, which is needed in certain rescue scenarios.

“The PJs and the combat rescue officers have a pretty broad skill set, and it’s pretty difficult to stay sharp on all those skills,” Eggers said. “So continuing to keep them engaged through training, it keeps those skills sharp throughout the entire deployment.”

Watch the full interview with Eggers here, and the PJ training videos here, here and here.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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