by Senior Airman Jake Carter
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
2/3/2016 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- When
pilots fly over the massive Nevada Test and Training Range north of Las
Vegas during Red Flag exercises, they always have to be in contact
with one another to make key decisions which will determine who will be
the day's victors and losers.
Teamwork is the key to success when air combat flying squadrons train in
harmony with space and cyberspace units from all around the world to
participate in U.S. Air Force's Red Flag exercises.
For the 606th Air Control Squadron, which operates out of Spangdahlem
Air Base, Germany, they are the commanders of the sky. From ground
equipment to radios and sensors, they have a big role in executing the
mission wherever they may be.
The 606th ACS is a self-contained mobile combat unit with Airmen
covering more than 21 career field specialties who operate and maintain
over $170 million worth of equipment.
The unit provides daily command and control to the 52d Fighter Wing's
two flying squadrons in addition to the occasional control of Airborne
Early Warning Force Command's E-3A from Geilenkirchen North Atlantic
Treaty Organization Air Base, Germany and visiting aircraft from around
the United States Air Force Europe Theater.
During Red Flag 16-1, the 606th ACS training objective is to control the skies over the NTTR.
"The 606th ACS, call sign Galley, provides tactical command and
control," said Lt. Col. Aaron Gibney, 606th ACS commander. "In other
words, we use our sensors and radios to find, communicate and integrate.
We also help solve problems, bring order, and make speedy decisions. We
accomplish this by allocating airspace, finding targets, communicating
the air picture, directing shooters, and integrating capabilities across
With Red Flag recently integrating all three domains into one exercise,
most of the 606th ACS Airmen are first time participants.
"Red Flag 16-1 is comprised of joint and coalition players and one of
our main objectives during this exercise is to obtain a better
understanding of how to integrate with our partners, especially at the
highest tactical level," Gibney said.
For the 606th operators, Gibney wanted to expose them to Red Flag to
prepare them for situations and scenarios on a larger scale.
"The 606th Air Control Squadron is at Red Flag to provide world-class
tactical command and control in support of all exercise participants.
Red Flag offers the unique opportunity to expose our operators to
situations and scenarios on a larger scale than can be replicated from
our home station," Gibney said. "We have over 30 operators across six
crew positions to include two intelligence Airmen. The majority of our
operators are attending Red Flag for their very first time."
While participating in Red Flag, they will be using the same command and
control system that they would use if they were to deploy.
"(This exercise) is very similar to real world operations and
expectations for our operators," said Maj. Jason Zemler, 606th ACS
director of operations. "Our operators have the unique opportunity at
Red Flag to execute on a system that is the same C2 system they will
deploy or execute on during our next deployment."
When units come to participate in a Red Flag exercise, they can expect
to walk away with the best training possible that will ready them for a
deployment when the time arises.
"While here, Galley operators experience many different pressures that
they are not usually exposed to," Zemler said. "The stressors associated
with detailed mission planning and execution based on realistic threat
systems and scenarios provides a learning opportunity that our operators
cannot typically receive in any other environment. When you apply those
stressors with time and weapons constraints, and repetition over a
three-week period, both the stress and learning is phenomenal."