Gunfighters shine, Red Flag 14-1 ends
By Senior Airman Benjamin SuttonSenior Airman Benjamin Sutton, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 21, 2014
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The sky above MHAFB has been quieter during the past three weeks without Bold Tiger aircrews roaring through the air in sleek F-15E Strike Eagles.
The multi-national combat exercise Red Flag 14-1 ended quietly last week at Nellis AFB, Nev., giving more than 200 Gunfighters the opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned while participating in the U.S. Air Force's premier air and ground crew combat training exercise.
"Red Flag is an important deployment training environment for military ground crew members by providing them the opportunity to keep aircraft in the fight, while being tested on scenarios they may face while in the combat," said Lt. Col. Tony Lombardo, 366th Maintenance Group deputy commander. "Our goal was to provide safe, effective sortie generation for aircrew, while at the same time enhancing our strategic and tactical maintenance skillsets."
Airmen took full advantage of the unique training opportunity. The devastating effects of the sequestration in April 2013 led to the combat air forces being stood down and the cancellation of Red Flag for that year.
"This is the first iteration of Red Flag since sequestration," said Maj. Thomas Bean 366th Operations Support Squadron assistant director of operations. "Due to the limited funds occurring throughout the Department of Defense, it's important for military members to take part in this type of signature air combat exercise. This is truly an unparalleled training opportunity for everyone involved."
Through their hard work and ingenuity, Gunfighters generated more than 1,600 sorties during the three-week period with zero safety incidents.
"We were able to demonstrate the our capabilities and provide an opportunity for air and ground crews to experience the joint/coalition environment while being exposed to advanced threats," said Bean. "Integration between squadrons is key to future coalition operations across the globe."
More than 2,000 joint-service members teamed up with coalition partners from the United Kingdom's Royal air force and the Royal Australian air force who flew thousands of miles to participate alongside Gunfighters during the exercise.
"It's humbling to see 3,200 air, space, and cyberspace warriors from 66 multi-national, multi-service units safely and effective execute operations and increase their skillset proficiency," said Lombardo. "It ultimately improves our interoperability and core competencies by understanding each other's capabilities and limitations. Most importantly, and what can't be underemphasized is the relationships and friendships we made that will be lasting and vital in the future."
The global team conducted 24-hour operations during the three week exercise.
"It was a great honor to serve with so many professional military members," said Lombardo. "No matter the challenges, I was never disappointed at how every aircraft unit came together to assist one another and find innovative solutions in order to excel at our mission. I am proud to serve alongside each and every person who participated."