A total of 22 participants from ten nations (Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, United Kingdom and Sweden plus Norway and the United States) attended the 2nd Personnel Recovery Controller and Planner Course (PRCPC) from 23 June to 4 July 2014 in Veszprém, Hungary.
This intensive two-week course - held for the first time at the Hungarian Air Force Air Command and Control Centre (ACCC) - aims at enabling participants to prepare, plan and execute Personnel Recovery Operations. Previous course participants and indeed all of the instructors have gained operational Personnel Recovery experience in various operations such as in ISAF in Afghanistan, Operation Unified Protector (OUP) in Libya and Operation SERVAL in Mali. “This course is indeed very helpful for our operational planning. The instructors are very experienced and motivated”, said course participant Captain Gábor Krenács from the Hungarian Air Force.
As well as the Hungarian staff instructors, a multi-national instruction team from Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France, Sweden and the United States deployed to Veszprém in order to support the training and to evaluate the 2nd PRCPC. Staff were also sent from NATO associated entities and the European Personnel Recovery Centre (EPRC).
Major Tor Cavalli-Björkman, a Swedish instructor and the main initiator of this European project, is convinced: “Since we started, first with a series of four pilot courses in 2011 and then with the establishment of a CAT B project in 2013, we have all benefited tremendously from this multi-national training and information exchange.” The contributing Member States at the moment are Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands under the lead of Sweden. The first course under the Cat B arrangement was conducted in February/March this year in Karlsborg, Sweden. Major Cavalli-Björkman also stressed that “this initiative increases the number of trained personnel available to support on-going operations as well as the EU Battle Group and national staffs.”
Standardise Personnel Recovery Training in Europe
The initiative to standardise Personnel Recovery training emerged from the Project Team Personnel Recovery (PT PR) in EDA at the end of November 2010. Peter Round, Capability, Armament & Technology Director at EDA, stated: “I am most grateful that Hungary agreed to offer this opportunity and hosted it so successfully at its Air Command and Control Centre’s facilities. This initiative has made a significant contribution to Personnel Recovery capabilities in Europe.”
Major Konrad Ertl from the German Air Operations Command in Kalkar and Chairman of the PT PR said “We all, students as well as instructors, are deeply impressed of the tremendous effort the HDF and the Hungarian Air Force has put in to setting-up this course. The facilities at the ACCC in Veszprém are very suitable for this course. Also the professionalism and the very high dedication of the Hungarian Hosts to this course was amazing. Finally, we all benefitted from an outstanding learning experience while enjoying the great hospitality in Hungary. Overall this made it very easy for us to do what we do, so ‘that others may live – and return with honour’. ‘Köszönöm szépen’ (many Thanks) to the Host nation!”
An officer from the ACCC said: “It was not an easy job to organise and run the course, but with the unselfish help of our colleagues and with one of the best instructor teams I have ever seen we accomplished the mission.”
Mitigating the risk of isolation, capture, and exploitation
Personnel Recovery is aimed at mitigating and reacting to the risk of isolation, capture, and exploitation of military or civilian personnel for instance during a Crisis Management Operation (CMO). The Personnel Recovery Course, held regularly by various host nations, is one of several results of the respective Project Team at EDA. Other initiatives include a Personnel Recovery Concept, a Personnel Recovery Functional Area Service to be connected to command & control systems in tactical and operational Headquarters for planners and controllers, a personnel registration tool and the preparation of a Personnel Recovery Baseline Training Tool.