NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --
This month, members of Oregon Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Squadron (ACS) are taking part in Exercise Red Flag, a two-week advanced aerial combat training exercise held several times a year. It aims to offer realistic air-combat training for military pilots and other flight crew members from the United States and allied countries.
This iteration of the ongoing exercise, Red Flag 22-2, will concentrate on three primary themes to include defensive, offensive, and counter-air techniques.
Although the members of the 116th spend countless hours training within the home environment, participating in a large scale exercise like Red Flag provides scenarios to stretch capabilities within a joint setting.
“Compared to at-home training, there are a lot more players involved and we have a chance to support multiple live aircraft vs. simulation,” said Senior Airman Caitlyn Conn, a command and control surveillance technician for the 116th ACS.
Watching four computer monitors at once, Command and Control (C2) technicians like Conn identify, watch and track multiple aircraft and ground units based on flight and sensor data. They pass this information on to decision-makers to help them make sense of an often dynamic air battle environment.
In advance of jets taking off and units mobilizing, the group gathered together to mission plan for multiple scenarios. During the brief, organizers mentioned they would be throwing in some wildcard scenarios in order to test each members’ knowledge and abilities. Part of the briefing includes refreshing on the specific capabilities of each aircraft, to help the crews make better decisions when scenarios unfold quickly.
“It’s nice being here with people I’ve known for the past three years. It’s a bonding experience with a little stress,” said Conn.
The Red Flag exercise is designed to simulate air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons systems, surface to air missiles, helicopters and combat search and rescue scenarios.
The 116th ACS is a geographically-separated unit under the 142nd Wing and based out of Camp Rilea, Oregon.
“In our typical training, we fly out over the ocean airspace, so the training in a place like Nellis is quite different,” said 1st Lt. Wyatt Aichele, air battle manager for the 116th Air Control Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard.
With a new setting, new airframes and equipment come a wider range of challenges that help personnel involved in the exercise additional opportunity to stretch their skills.
Participants, to include around 14 units with approximately 1,750 personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Air National Guard, Royal Saudi Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force, will have a primary focus on combat missions, mission commander upgrades and flag-unique experiences that contribute most to readiness and partnering.
The coalition core function forces will gain a significant combat advantage by being exposed to realistic, representative, relevant and integrated tactical experiences. The U.S. and allied forces train to ensure smooth integration and shared understanding.
Through exercises like Red Flag, Oregon’s best are able to maintain a high-level of professionalism and readiness, prepared to respond to every call for the state and nation they call home.