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AFTER ACTION REPORT OPERATION SNAKE EATERS

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AFTER ACTION REPORT OPERATION SNAKE EATERS

Post by (D/229) Molevich on Sun 3 Jun 2018 - 19:58

After Action Report- Operation Snake Eaters

1 x Flight, 5 x Mi-8s

Flight: FL /Chalk 1 Mole, Chalk 2 Flubber, Chalk 3 Freak , Chalk 4 Groundhog, Chalk 5 Blade

This AAR is drawn from the individual Debriefs submitted by members of the Flight who have submitted personal debrief statements.

In this report I have endeavoured to condense and collate a series of useful comments, criticisms and conclusions to identify areas of success and achievement, areas in need of focus in skill development and areas in need of serious attention in instruction and training. Conclusions will be general for the 8Mates Group as a whole, and not pilot nor flight specific.

MISSION SUMMARY.
Operation Snake Eaters was a night mission in foul weather. Taking place in the valleys and mountains north of Kleftiko-SpizzEnergi, the operation required the collection of Special Forces in a mountainous region, with the LZ in a particularly tricky location, a narrow valley with steep slopes on 3 sides and an easterly wind and turbulence. Transportation of the troops to a combat LZ, though resistance and anti-air threats were light. After dropping those troops, another few squads were ready for collection some 3 klicks west of the combat zone. Then return to Home plate

Key Areas.
Planning.
Mission Execution.
Flight Performance.
Communications.
Threat Control.
Situational Awareness and Performance by Roles, FL.
Navigation.
Special Considerations: NVGs



Planning.
Following on from Punchbowl, there was a much more sincere effort in pre-flight planning and discussion. Navigation was the key area of concern, and the fear of crashing in near darkness heightened the need to know where Flight would be going. Formation-flying in the dark, with formation lights only added to the tension. The heightened tension led to a few errors at start up. But working as a team, and patience, brought rewards for all. Navigation settings were allocated, dopplers and compasses were set, roles agreed and the flight was ready to depart.
Recommendation.Continue to strengthen this level of Pre-flight Comms. Navigation prep reduces anxiety and allows the minds to focus on other challenges. Comms still needs to be tightened up. Flight Lead to take better command of inter-flight Comms. Maybe a Chalk by Chalk check down preflight to ensure all fully ready.

Mission Execution.
All mission goals were achieved with few losses. One airframes damaged front wheel, one airframe lost in execution of mission objectives, but overall an acceptable level. One pilot KIA, on landing at LZ2, due to VRS, probably caused by time-pressure at end of mission. Landing at the very challenging LZ1 was overall achieved to a good level. Main tasks were delivery of troops to front line areas, in almost total darkness and foul weather. Despite this, all pilots had good results in achieving mission objectives.
Recommendation. Keep Calm and Carry On!

Flight Performance.
Overall very good. Formation flying in near total darkness and with NVGs showed a need for some further practice and training, but the general standard was high and competent. The extra challenges of strong winds and turbulence were handled well by all, despite occasional problems. Issues dealt with by go-arounds when required. Main issues were loss of visual contact in darkness, but good comms and redirects usually solved this rapidly, with corrections and returns to order. Landings were good, and troop extractions/deployments were well executed.
Recommendation.More Formation Flying practice in squads of 2, 3 and 4 in NVGs. Variation of speed, variations of height, variations of separation by RD, and in variations of terrain and darkness. Reference of Blade Angle settings by FL helps entire squad to manage speed effectively.

Communications.
Comms in a single duplex channel was undisciplined while on the ground, but settled down once airborne and busy. Overall communications inter-flight were successful and effective.
Recommendation. Use of the word “Over” at ends of communication by individuals needs practice and reinforcing. Use of Simplex/SR would enforce this practice.

Threat Control.
The mission environment contained few significant threats to transport flights. However, awareness of a TOR in the region ensured the flight maintained a low to mid level valley altitude.
Recommendation. FL to ensure that all Chalks have flares set up before initial departure and know how to dispense. (He forgot that...) All Chalks to test flare dispenser once before entering high threat areas. .

Situational Awareness and Performance by Chalks, FL.
Most Flight members gained a reasonable working knowledge of the mission objectives quickly from briefing. FL demonstrated good knowledge of the mission goals and the Area of Operation. Flight Lead was generally acknowledged as being good, with good knowledge of the route and methods of navigation.
Recommendation. All participants to be encouraged to read and reread any briefings, study maps, be aware of routes etc at the main pre-flight briefing.

Navigation.
Despite the marked up Flight Plan in the Garmin, Flight was expected to use Pilotage and Dopplers. Navigation was well executed throughout the mission, with good timing and good effective arrival at LZs and WPs.
Recommendation. Greater understanding of Doppler use to be developed as a simple but effective navigation tool in the absence of the Garmin. Add use of ARK-9 also.

Night Vision Goggles
Use of NVGs proved challenging, for various reasons. (update Mods after DCS updates!) The contrast between darkness and NVG vision is tricky, reading instruments in NVG in detail nigh impossible. Despite this, Flight was generally comfortable with the difficulties, except under multi-tasking stress bottle-necks. Eg, Landing at LZ1.
Recommendation. More night missions! More practice in the dark, at dusk, at dawn. Check Mods are updated correctly. More formation practice in NVGs.
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(D/229) Molevich
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