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37th Bomb Squadron departs for Green Flag

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Zachary Hada
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
B-1 bomber aircrews assigned to the 37th Bomb Squadron and a myriad of support personnel from several other groups departed Ellsworth recently to conduct training missions over Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., from Sept. 26 to Oct. 9.

Capt. James Lebeau, 37th BS B-1 pilot, explained that the Green Flag exercise - designed to prepare our aircrews and support personnel for upcoming deployments to Southwest Asia - is crucial this year in light of reduced flying hours at Ellsworth since the start of 2013.

"With fewer flying hours over the past year, aircrews haven't had as much time to fine-tune their abilities," Lebeau said. "This exercise provides an opportunity to sharpen our Airmen's skills and build confidence."

Lt. Col. Stuart Newberry, 37th BS commander, said the exercise will be the squadron's capstone before they deploy later this year.

"We'll be flying close-air-support and other integrated missions with the Army," said Newberry. "Our goal is to replicate situations and scenarios we will see downrange including various live-fire training scenarios."

In addition to critical training time in the cockpit for aircrews, Airmen will be honing their skills in a number of different areas to include launching and receiving aircraft, performing repairs, marshaling, fueling aircraft and loading weapons during the annual two-week exercise.

Second Lt. Jeffrey Hutchins, 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant officer in charge, said more than 140 Airmen and five B-1s will be participating in Green Flag.

"Our goal is to help increase situational awareness and therefore, minimize risk associated with day-to-day operations," Hutchins said. "These types of exercises can also help our newer Airmen gain experience. That way, they can have a better idea of what operations are like downrange."

Lebeau added that Airmen will also have a chance to develop key partnerships with other allied forces participating in the exercise.

"We'll be working side-by-side with more than 3,000 Soldiers who are also getting ready to deploy," Lebeau said. "The idea is to make sure everyone will participate in a more realistic training environment."

Since 1975, Air Force aircrews and other U.S. military branches and allies have taken part in several Green Flag exercises, each of which is two weeks in duration.