Air Force reservists participate in Red Flag Exercise

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Richard Curry
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing
Twenty-three reservists from the 513th Air Control Group recently returned from participating in an 18-day deployment exercise at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The exercise, called Red Flag-Alaska, is a realistic, 10-day air combat multi-service exercise.

The 513th ACG is an Air Force Reserve group associated with the active duty 552nd Air Control Wing located here on base. The group is an associate group and supports flying and maintenance for the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft.

The 513th maintenance reservists supported active duty aircrew members successfully completing 100 percent of the planned exercise sorties during the event for more than 48 total flying hours.

According to Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Allen of the 513th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, this was the first time the 513th maintenance members have participated in Red Flag-Alaska. They supported multiple flying missions over the duration of the exercise.

Lt. Col. Bryan Dickson served as the 513th's senior maintenance officer in charge for the exercise.

"Red Flag was total force integration in action. This was a great opportunity for us to work alongside our Alaska active duty counterparts during the Exercise," Colonel Dickson said. "Our Reserve maintenance troops blended seamlessly with the active duty and got the job done. In fact, our mission capability rate for the exercise was 100 percent, meaning every sortie flew -- every time. Ted Williams batted .344; my guys batted 1.000! If this were baseball, my troops would be hall-of-famers."

Red Flag-Alaska is part of a series of Red Flag exercise and is held up to four times a year. In addition to the exercise held in Alaska, a counterpart exercise takes place in Nevada. Each Red Flag-Alaska exercise is a multi-platform coordinated combat operations exercise and corresponds to the designed operational capability of participating units. In other words, exercises often involve several units whose military mission may differ significantly from that of other participating units.

Red Flag-Alaska planners take those factors into consideration when designing exercises so participants get the maximum training possible without being placed at an unfair advantage during simulated combat scenarios. On an average, more than 700 people and up to 60 aircraft deploy to Eielson, and an additional 500 people and 40 aircraft deploy to Elmendorf Air Force Base, for each Red Flag-Alaska exercise.

During the two-week employment phase of the exercise, aircrews are subjected to a wide range of combat threats. Scenarios are shaped to meet each exercise's specific training objectives. All units are involved in the development of exercise training objectives. At the height of the exercise, up to 70 aircraft can be operating in the same airspace at one time. Typically, Red Flag-Alaska conducts two combat missions each day.

"Deploying to Alaska was a great opportunity to get the troops some off-station annual training," Colonel Dickson said. "By deploying to Alaska, my folks get to focus exclusively on the E-3 AWACS maintenance training they need, and we help our active-duty counterparts at Elmendorf. It's a win-win."