by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
9/22/2015 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- More
than 100 Airmen and eight A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Davis-Monthan Air
Force Base, Arizona, arrived at Nellis AFB to participate in Green
Flag-West 15-10 from Sept. 13-25.
Green Flag-West is an advanced, realistic, and relevant air-to-surface
training exercise, preparing joint and coalition warfighters to meet
combatant commander requirements across air, space, and cyberspace. It
is a joint exercise administered by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center
and Nellis AFB through the 549th Combat Training Squadron.
"Green Flag-West is the premiere U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and U.S.
Marine Corps joint close air support integration exercise," said Capt.
Christopher "Geronimo" Johns, 357th Fighter Squadron flight commander
and Green Flag-West project officer. "Ground units will utilize Fort
Irwin, (California) and the National Training Center to execute a large
force-on-force ground battle between two superior forces while
integrating rotary and fixed wing assets to destroy 'enemy' forces in
During the exercise, eight units from around the country, including the
41st Electronic Combat Squadron and the 357th FS from D-M, will team up
to create the scenario. The scenario portrays threats friendly forces
can expect to encounter including tanks, artillery, surface-to-air
gunfire and missiles, rotary and fixed wing air threats and command and
"Units participating gain realistic wartime experience in order to clear
some 'fog and friction' prior to actually supporting COCOMs in active
areas of responsibility," Johns said. "Ground commanders will take away a
better understanding of what air power can do to shape the battle space
and attrition the enemy forces. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers will
experience communication challenges in the field, gain aircraft control
experience, and receive instruction from A-10 instructor pilots on close
air support procedures through face-to-face debriefs after each
There are 17 pilots from the 357th FS playing a role in Green Flag.
Along with them, they brought six upgrade training A-10 pilots from the
formal training unit on D-M. Because they are not fully mission
qualified, Air Force Instructions prohibit their participation in a Flag
exercise, but they can utilize the training complex ranges and
resources the instructor pilots are using.
"For us as student pilots, this is our first exposure to a large force
exercise," said 1st Lt. Shannon Smith, 357th FS student pilot. "We get
use to the scenery (in Arizona) and the type of missions we are flying.
Coming here now, we get exposed to different airframes and JTACS, and
then we actually get to work with the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control
System aircraft and refuel as part of our mission."
While here, the students will qualify on different aspects of the aircraft including aerial refueling and weapons.
"They are flying syllabus sorties that provide instruction on low
altitude surface attack tactics, flying as a wingman, executing briefed
geometry, and employing weapons in close proximity to the ground and
friendly personnel to destroy enemy targets while providing mutual
support to their flight lead in order to survive against enemy threats,"
Although the 357th FS has been participating in Green Flag for multiple
years, this is only the third time the unit has brought the upgrade
training pilots in an effort to expand their experience before they are
assigned to their first operational squadron.
"Flying out of a different location and observing the instructor pilots
prepare and debrief Green Flag sorties exposes the upgrade pilots to
additional airmanship tools, understanding of operations away from home
station, and they receive a glimpse into the life of an A-10 pilot
during 'deployed' operations," Johns said.
By the end of the two-week exercise, the 357th FS instructor and student
pilots will leave Nellis AFB with more knowledge and skills then when
they came. They will able to use these skills while deployed and during
future exercise around the country.