Episode 65: When It Matters the Most: Combat Search and Rescue

In episode 65 of the Aerospace Advantage podcast, When It Matters the Most: Combat Search and Rescue, host John “Slick” Baum, engages with 23rd Wing Commander Col Russ Cook to explore the team behind this critical mission set. Bottom line, when aircrews strap into their jets and fly into harm’s way, they face the very real chance of getting shot down, having to eject, and finding themselves deep behind enemy lines with nothing but some basics in their survival vest, a sidearm, and their training. They may be injured or face incredibly hostile physical conditions. Odds are that the enemy also knows they are down there and will be doing everything possible to capture them. In this episode, we learn about the combat search and rescue (CSAR) airmen who are trained and equipped to fly into harm’s way to retrieve downed airmen. This is one of the most difficult jobs in the Air Force. And just to be clear, this isn’t just a mission, it’s a moral imperative. CSAR crews have been run hard over the past three decades supporting combat operations in Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and other venues. They’re also at an inflection point regarding what their mission will look like in the future as they look to fly against peer threats in the Pacific and Europe.


Host: Lt Col (Ret.) John “Slick” Baum, Senior Fellow, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

Producer: Daniel C. Rice

Executive Producer: Douglas Birkey

Guest: Col Russ Cook, 23rd Wing Commander, USAF

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