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Practice how you play: AFSOUTH Airmen participate in Blue Flag exercise


With the battlefield constantly evolving Airmen must be prepared at a moment’s notice to respond to any scenario that may come their way. Airmen from 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) with assistance from the 505th Combat Training Squadron, the 183rd Fighter Wing and other partner units are hosting the 41st Blue Flag training exercise at Davis-Monthan AFB April 17-29.


The exercise duplicates theater conditions and procedures as closely as possible to prepare Airmen participating for real-world future operations. The planners research friendly and enemy force structures, communications capabilities, logistics support, command and control procedures, and current plans and directives.


“Blue Flag is a unique opportunity for our leaders here and their supporting staff to train on how they would execute the mission during a major combat operation,” said Lt. Col. Dean Jackson, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) chief of operational plans. “The most unique part about this exercise is that the leaders are able to train for an integrated air campaign, counter enemy tactics and see the outcome of decisions they’ve made very quickly.” 


The scenario revolves follows a notional ally and friendly country that had an earthquake.  Due to the damage caused by the earthquake, a neighboring country decided to make military advances in the disputed area between the countries. Upon request for assistance, members of 12th AF/AFSOUTH have been tasked to assist in restoring the national sovereignty of our ally.


Close coordination between 12th Air Force command staff and the 612th Air Operations Center (AOC) is critical to Blue Flag mission success.  The 612th AOC is the command and control node for air and space power assets in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility (AOR).  The five divisions of the AOC plan, execute, support and assess air, space, and information operations.


“The AOC has a big role during an exercise like this, we are planning, executing and assessing multi-domain operations for the Air Component Commander in support of the Combatant Commander objectives,” said Maj. Gregory White, 612th AOC strategy and plans division.   


The 505th CTS, is Air Combat Command’s (ACC) agent for planning and executing Blue Flag. The unit provides doctrinally-correct air, space, and cyberspace crisis action planning and command and control training for joint/coalition air components and operational-level headquarters in a constructive environment.


During the exercise the 505th CTS observes while scenarios are injected and provides feedback on the response of the forces involved. At the end of the exercise the 505th CTS will summarize lessons learned to 12th Air Force leadership to discuss what they observed so that the unit is better prepared for future operations.

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