Training opportunities abound at RED FLAG-Alaska

A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules C-130 Hercules sits on the flightline at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. Recently Dobbins sent a C-130 team to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska for RED FLAG Alaska 15-1, Oct. 2 through 17. All RED FLAG-Alaska exercises take place in the Joint Pacific Range Complex over Alaska as well as a portion of Western Canadian airspace. The entire airspace is made up of extensive Military Operations Areas, Special Use Airspace and ranges, for a total airspace of more than 67,000 square miles. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo/Released)

A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules C-130 Hercules sits on the flightline at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. Recently Dobbins sent a C-130 team to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska for RED FLAG Alaska 15-1, Oct. 2 through 17. All RED FLAG-Alaska exercises take place in the Joint Pacific Range Complex over Alaska as well as a portion of Western Canadian airspace. The entire airspace is made up of extensive Military Operations Areas, Special Use Airspace and ranges, for a total airspace of more than 67,000 square miles. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo/Released)

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- Recently the 94th Airlift Wing sent a one-craft, 44-man C-130 Hercules team to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska for RED FLAG Alaska 15-1, Oct. 2 through 17.

All RED FLAG-Alaska exercises take place in the Joint Pacific Range Complex over Alaska as well as a portion of Western Canadian airspace. The entire airspace is made up of extensive Military Operations Areas, Special Use Airspace and ranges, for a total airspace of more than 67,000 square miles.

"Red Flag is integral to [training]. It's what creates our PhD-level war fighters for the Air Force. The weapons school creates our actual PhDs, who then train the rest of the force," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh.

"This was a great opportunity for us," said Lt. Col. Terence Green, 700th Airlift Squadron commander. "We got to experience the big air picture and to integrate with other C-130 units. The H and J models usually don't get to fly together."

This iteration of Red Flag included F-16s from the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; F-16s from the 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, Korea; KF-16Ds from the Republic of Korea Air Force; KC-135s from the 168th Air Refueling Squadron at JBER; Marine Corps AV-8Bs from VMA-311 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma; E/A-18Gs from VAQ-133 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island; joint terminal attack controllers from the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron at JBER; and HH-60Gs from the 210th Rescue Squadron at JBER.

Elmendorf also hosted E-3 Sentries from the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron from that base and the 961st AACS from Kadena Air Base, Japan; C-17s from JBER; C-130Js from the 41st Airlift Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas; C-130Hs from the Republic of Korea Air Force; MC-130Ns from the 211th Rescue Squadron at JBER; and the C-130Hs from the 700th AS.

"The big take away that I got from this was learning how to operate with big Air Force weapons systems and working with coalition partners," said 1st Lt. Josh Rower, 700th AS C-130 pilot.

Red Flag Alaska 15-1 kicked off operations on Oct. 6, with a bit of a hitch in the form of about four inches of snow and temperatures lingering at about 20 degrees, forcing crews to cancel the first scenario.

Several inches of snow and temperatures of 20 degrees stopped aircraft from taking off. Dozens of U.S. and international aircraft had to wait for the go ahead to begin their training.

The 700th AS performed infiltration/exfiltration of troops and equipment for Army and Marines, Air land (dirt assaults), and air drop operations while performing in a navigation, radar and infrared contested environment. Unfortunately, they only got to fly in eight of the 10 missions due to the inclement weather.

Studies show that the chances of a pilot surviving a war greatly increased after the first 10 combat sorties. The Air Force decided to create the exercise as a way to effectively fly a pilot's first 10 combat sorties in a training environment.

Though the amount of exercises got cut short, the exercise provided enough unique opportunities that the 94th Airlift Wing plans on making another appearance, said Green.

"The chance to learn to operate with all weapons and fighter to fighter support provided incredible training opportunities," Rower said.

Exercises like Red Flag to allow joint and coalition servicemembers to train together; learn the nuances in each other's languages; merge our tactics, techniques and procedures; and experience the flavor of tactics that each service or nation brings to the fight so they can learn from each other, better integrate with each other and eventually better fight alongside each other, said Lt. Col. A.J. Pelkington, the deputy deployed forces commander for Red Flag and 8th Operations Support Squadron commander at Kunsan Air Force Base, South Korea.

"Next time, we plan on bringing a six-ship team," Green added.