Team JSTARS flexes at Red Flag

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
When it comes to realistic air-to-air combat training, Air Force members who live and breathe aboard some of the world's most advanced military weapon systems got a chance last month to test some of their skills.

Red Flag exercises were conducted in January above the skies of Nellis Air Force Base's Nevada Test and Training Range.

Hosted by Nellis' 414th Combat Training Squadron, this year's exercise included the Team JSTARS platform from Robins which deployed about 80 members for the three-week exercise. That included security forces, air control network squadron, operators and maintenance teams from the 116th and 461st Air Control wings.

"Red Flag was all about planning, briefing, executing and debriefing the scenario each day. Ideally that can be a 12- to 16-hour work day of two different battle rhythms," said Maj. Marcus Wilson, JSTARS' Red Flag detachment commander, and 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron chief of staff. "Our enablers ensured we're in good position and have quality aircraft to integrate with the mission."

Due to the high operations tempo of JSTARS during the last decade, it was reiterated how crucial it's been for newer warfighters to experience and appreciate the full spectrum of Red Flag training. This year for example provided training on countering cyber threats.

"Red Flag is the pinnacle of air exercises, especially with few opportunities to train with our training partners at that level," said Maj. Gregory Blom, 16th ACCS assistant director of operations, whose Red Flag role was mission crew commander. "We had the chance to bring out all these airplanes, technologies and capabilities to go up against a robust threat.

"It was an amazing opportunity," he added. "You exercise muscles you don't normally exercise. It's important we get out to train so we can use those muscles when called to do so."

Including E-8C aircrews and maintainers from JSTARS, various aircraft platforms participated from across the military and allied partners such as Great Britain and Australia.

"It was spectacular," Wilson said of the exercise's conclusion Feb. 14. "I can tell you they love JSTARS out here at Nellis. They understand what our capabilities are based on what we've done. They know how we can win our nation's wars in the future."

Red Flag was cancelled in 2013 due to budget cuts and sequestration