Deterrence assurance at Red Flag

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 509th and the 131st Bomb Wings integrated to support three B-2 Spirits at Red Flag 11-3, Nellis Air Force Base, NV.

Red Flag is a realistic combat operations exercise, or 'peacetime battlefield,' providing the air forces of the United States and its allies with the ability to train to fight together, to survive together and to win together.

Red Flag 11-3 took place Feb. 21 to March 12 and marked the official transition to a three-week exercise, from the previous two-week exercise. The transition allowed for extensive training opportunities and scenarios.

"Red Flag exercises can best be described as a building-block approach to training," said Lt. Col. Mark Riselli, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. "With the B-2 flying multiple sorties daily during the three week exercise, each mission becomes more complex to test, train and build experience for participants at the tactical level.

"Whiteman played a key role by supporting the only heavy bomber aircraft for the exercise," he said. "The United States Air Force was able to match the F-22 with the B-2 during Red Flag to further develop our lethal stealth war fighting capabilities."

Red Flag 11-3 was the largest in 35 years making it a great training opportunity, according to Colonel Riselli.

"Participating in Red Flag gave maintenance and support personnel the opportunity to sharpen their expeditionary skills by planning and executing the steps necessary to move personnel, parts, equipment and aircraft from the comfort and routine of Whiteman Air Force Base to a location many of us were not familiar with," Colonel Riselli said.

Total Force Integration was a large focus for Team Whiteman and a rigorous test of their ability to survive and operate in a combat environment.

"Together, we (the 509th BW and 131st BW) planned and executed the three week exercise with active duty and Guard personnel working side-by-side, every step of the way," said Colonel Riselli.

"This seamless integration of the 509th and 131st Bomb Wings, spread throughout all aspects of operations, proves what a great complement active duty and Guard forces are to each other," said Maj. Jen Avery, 131st Operations Support Flight B-2 pilot. "The exercise was composed of members from not only the U.S., but Britain and Australia creating realistic, multi-national combat training against a formidable threat."

Red Flag takes place north of Las Vegas on the Nevada Test and Training Range, which includes more than 12,000 square miles of airspace and 2.9 million acres of land.

Aircraft and personnel deploy to Nellis for Red Flag under the Air Expeditionary Force concept and form the exercise's "Blue" forces. Each mission brings capabilities of each weapon system together to successfully execute specific missions. The "Red" forces threats are aligned under the 57th Adversary Tactics Group, which controls seven squadrons of USAF Aggressors, including fighter, space, information operations and air defense units. The aggressors are specially trained to replicate the tactics and techniques of potential adversaries and provide a scalable threat presentation to Blue forces, which aids in achieving the desired learning outcome for each mission.

Whiteman personnel performed their duties to perfection while deployed to Nellis AFB, according to Colonel Riselli.

"Any time you deploy, you learn a new lesson and learning those new lessons together strengthened our total force integration mindset," said Colonel Riselli.