by Capt. Brian Walker
437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
9/10/2015 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- This
past August, members from all branches of the US military in
conjunction with international allies met at Nellis Air Force Base to
hone their air combat capabilities by participating in the Red Flag
exercise. Red Flag was established in 1975 to help maximize the
readiness, skills and survivability of airborne assets in a combat
environment. For the first time since 2001, members from the 437th
Airlift Wing were involved in Red Flag, sending four aircrews and a C-17
Globemaster III to contribute to the two week, $3 million exercise.
This year's Red Flag included military units from Israel, Singapore and
Red Flag is designed to simulate a large scale air war incorporating all
types of aircraft, from fighters and bombers to cargo and
reconnaissance. These aircraft practice various combat roles such as
close air support and combat search and rescue. The entire exercise
takes place in the Nevada Test and Training Range a relatively small 120
mile by 80 mile airspace, at times filled with more than 100 aircraft.
Red Flag incorporates 40 aggressor "enemy" aircraft and a vast array of
simulated surface-to-air defenses making the scenarios as realistic as
Capt. Matthew Weinberg, the Mission Planning Cell Chief for mobility
aircraft at Red Flag commented on training provided at the exercise.
"Red Flag teaches all the players how to better interact and fully
utilize other assets. It's all about integration and learning how to
communicate your specific requirements to other key players, such as the
Combat Air Forces, which allow you to complete your mission," he said.
"Red Flag used the lessons of history to build a venue that forces
players to communicate in ways that are required for survival in the
real world. "Fighters and bombers didn't know how to talk to us and we
didn't know how to talk to them. Red Flag is designed to change that."
During Red Flag 2015, the 437th AW crews provided airdrop capabilities,
performing high and low altitude deliveries of Special Operations
forces, supplies and Survival Specialists.
"The flying experienced at Red Flag provided training that is unmatched
anywhere," said Capt. Patrick Griffin, one of the 437th AW SOLL II
pilots. "It was incredible to see so many aircraft performing their
missions in such a small airspace while in a realistic ground and air
The NTTR is filled with steep mountainous terrain, adding extra complexity to an already challenging mission scenario.
Beyond the aircraft and aircrew, the exercise includes all aspects of a
deployed unit. The exercise incorporated the full spectrum of aircraft
support including a Combat Air Operations Center, Maintenance, Aircrew
Flight Equipment, Squadron Aviation Resource Management, Survival
Specialists and Intelligence.
Weinberg believes the 437th AW will likely continue to partake in future exercises citing the significant training benefits.
"Participating in this exercise will change a lot about how we operate,"
said Weinberg. "The exercise shows us how the Air Force, Joint and
Coalition partners fight and how we must adapt our training to fit that
methodology. In the future we hope to incorporate other aircrews from
the rest of the C-17 community to experience the crucial lessons learned
during Red Flag."