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Gunfighter Flag promotes international interoperability

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The multi-national combat exercise Gunfighter Flag continued today with continuous training in order to prepare multiple coalition joint terminal attack controller teams and proficiency training for aircrews.

Airmen from the 366th Operations Group, 366th Maintenance Group and 266th Range Squadron teamed with Sailors from Whidbey Island, Wash.; Marines from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.; British Army joint terminal attack controllers; Marine JTACs; and Air Force, Marine and British special forces for the intense combat training scenarios.

"When warfighters train, regardless of who they are or where they are from, realism is paramount," said Maj. Dave Cochran, 366th Operations Support Squadron wing weapons and tactics chief. "Mountain Home Air Force Base and the 266th Range Squadron controls and maintains emitter sites across almost 7,500-square miles of operational range space, and it's that access to airspace and ranges that allows for realistic, safe training and testing while providing the flexibility to accommodate the complexity of this multinational, multiservice exercise."

British Army special operations members flew more than 4,800 miles to train here at the Saylor Creek and Juniper Butte Bombing Range Complexes.

"We're very excited to be here for the combat training," said a British Special Forces forward air controller. "It's nice having the opportunity to work with the all the squadrons, test different scenarios and see how we all fit in the puzzle."

Wing weapons and tactics must be knowledgeable about how the how all the multiple jigsaw pieces fit together.

"We develop relationships and integration proficiency by creating and executing exercises," said Cochran. "The relationships we make this week and the tactics we practice could very well be used in combat in the near future to maximize the effectiveness of the joint and coalition force. Each unit has the flexibility to incorporate their own training desires into almost every stage of this exercise, each unit should be able to accomplish all its required training events in a more challenging and integrated environment than one they could simulate at home."

Gunfighter Flag is an opportunity for mission-specific training such as, close air support, Special Operations Forces integration, and joint fires exercises from aircraft such as AC-130 gunships, F-15E Strike Eagles, F-15SGs as well as fixed and rotary wing helicopters.

"Having high-threat opposed close-air-support in a contested environment is vital to warfighters across the globe," said an Air Force combat controller. "It's imperative that we are all thinking and acting as strategic as possible due to the constantly evolving battlefield."