Military News

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mobility airmen, nations gather exercise Gunfighter Flag

by Airman 1st Class Amber Carter
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

11/13/2015 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Airmen from Travis Air Force Base, California, recently participated alongside other Airmen from various bases, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the Singapore air force, in the week-long total-force exercise Gunfighter Flag.

The joint advanced combat operations training exercise took place from Nov. 2 to 6 near Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.

"Approximately 13 different airframes participated," said Capt. Chad Murray, 6th Air Refueling Squadron chief of tactics. "Exercise Gunfighter Flag is part of Red Flag geared towards different combat situations."

Red Flag is the Air Forces premier air-to-air combat training exercise. Participants often include both United States and allied nation's combat forces.

"The training touched on all combat situations such as offensive, defensive counter air, destruction of enemy air defenses, high value targeting and search and rescue," Murray said. "Our role is contributing different assets, helping support the fight in terms of operating in a contested environment by keeping the tankers close to the fight but not too close that they will be a target. We also kept track of the refueling operations."

Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Materiel Command participated alongside the Air National Guard, Army National Guard, U.S. Navy and the Republic of Singapore air force unit, to complete the exercise.

"This kind of exercise allows for different airframes and capabilities from the Air Force to come together and work together to figure out what everyone's limitations are," Murray said. "As a tanker pilot, knowing their limitations helps to make the mission more effective."

Another benefit was the specialized training for the boom operators.

"Refueling fighters is a challenge because they move fast and we have to keep up with their speed," said Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Forrider, 6th ARS boom operator student who participated in exercise Gunfighter Flag.

Training as a boom operator involves different phases of training and specific tasks that must be performed before they can be deployable.

"They come up in flights instead of one at a time when compared to heavies like another KC-10 and the receptacle is smaller," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Long, 6th ARS boom operator instructor. "The students will get a chance to refuel fighters during the day and at night which is part of their qualification training to go from a flying boom, local refuels, to mission boom, world-wide refuels."

Airframes such as the KC-10 Extender, C-5M Super Galaxy, RQ-4 Global Hawk, HH-60 Pave Hawk, E-3 Sentry, EA-6B Prowler and multiple F-15 models worked together to achieve the same goal.

"We got a chance to operate with players that we don't normally get to train with at Travis," Murray said. "Without question, we practice like we play to make sure we are always ready. Joint training is great because when we get downrange there is no delineation of services. We may wear different patches but we are fighting the same war. Understanding the differences of the services is helpful and understanding that we are much more effective together is important to accomplishing every mission."

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