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Joint Red Flag bringing big picture together

by Staff Sgt. Angel L. Casaigne Jr.
Joint Red Flag Joint Information Bureau

3/22/2005 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFPN) -- One of the nation's largest integrated exercise involving live and virtual simulations is well under way at locations throughout the United States.

Joint Red Flag is a training exercise for U.S. military and coalition forces to enhance operational effectiveness, exercise officials said.

More than 10,000 people are participating in the exercise, primarily at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bliss, Texas; Hurlburt Field, Fla.; and here. A key to the success of the exercise is integrating the live, virtual and constructive aspects under one umbrella.

"The difficult tasks of combining all live, virtual and constructive forces, saving lives and creating a computer-simulated battle plan distributed to sites all across the country is doing great," said Lt. Col. James Murray, 12th Air Force project officer. "This is as good as we could have expected at this point."

Live training refers to people and aircraft actually performing an exercise mission, Colonel Murray said. Virtual training refers to crews participating in the exercise by using simulators at various locations. Constructive forces, he said, are computer-aided simulations controlling a wider span of forces which play out much like a person sitting at a computer playing a video game.

"During the exercise, we have (about) 350 to 400 live joint and coalition sorties each day," Colonel Murray said. "That isn't really out of the norm; however, when you combine that with the more than 600 to 700 constructive sorties and 850 virtual sorties we're flying, it's very busy."

"Joint Red Flag is one of the largest and most complex modeling and simulation architectures created to date," said Lt. Col. Mark D. Horn, commander of the 505th Exercise Control Squadron at Hurlburt Field. "The exercise has successfully linked 31 distributed sites, incorporating 34 constructive simulations, and over 18 virtual simulations and weapons tactics trainers. This is a great undertaking and accomplishment that we are all proud of."

The constructive forces are to play a large role in Joint Red Flag and add a unique aspect to the exercise and training scenario.

"Constructive simulations allow the military to train distributively, which means that the participants in some cases do not even need to leave their home base location to be a part of the largest joint and combined exercise ever attempted in history," Colonel Murray said. "These models and simulations also allow the warfighters to integrate new weapons and weapon systems before they are first used in combat situations. This allows military planners the ability to learn how these new capabilities can be maximized without having to use the actual aircraft or weapon.

"In the end, the constructive training provided will continue to help the military reduce the overall training costs, while providing very realistic training using tomorrow's weapons and techniques today," he said.

In addition to saving money, the participation of coalition forces in Joint Red Flag gives an opportunity to save many lives.

"For the first time ever, we're developing a coalition information system and network to move more information to all participants in a theater of operation," Colonel Murray said. "Information is a critical asset in any combined air and space operations center. It dramatically reduces the possibility of future friendly fire incidents, allowing our brave men and women to fight another day. This training is an intricate part of what the military will be using in the future to save lives."

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