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Joint Red Flag concludes

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

4/5/2005 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFPN)  -- The first U.S. forces and coalition Joint Red Flag exercise concluded April 2. The two week joint exercise is considered one of the largest distributive exercise in the history of the U.S. military with more than 10,000 participants in 44 different sites nationwide.

Participants were stationed throughout the country.

One of the major undertakings of the exercise was the integration of live, virtual and constructive technologies into one seamless picture, officials said.

Live training refers to people and aircraft actually performing an exercise mission. Virtual training refers to crews participating in the exercise by using simulators, and constructive forces are computer-aided simulations controlling a wider span of forces playing out on a computer station.

"The integration of live, virtual and constructive participants posed several challenges, but I believe we'll have a solution to the integration in the very near future. We attained about 90 percent of what we set out to accomplish..." said Lt. Col. James Murray, 12th Air Force project officer. "Some items went extremely well, and we learned a great deal along the way."

The total number of missions flown to combine this picture was immense, Colonel Murray said.

"We flew an incredible number of sorties during the execution of this exercise," he said. "Of the 24,000 sorties flown, 3,500 to 4,000 were live combat training missions, 6,000 to 7,000 were flown as virtual sorties and 18,500 (were) constructive sorties. We really pushed the limits of the personnel and systems. They each performed remarkably," he said.

The simulation and coalition training of the exercise was also a great achievement, said Lt. Col. Mark Horn, 505th Exercise Control Squadron commander at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

"Joint Red Flag was an unqualified success from the joint exercise control group perspective," Colonel Horn said. "This was the first large scale distributed exercise control event ever attempted from the 505th Command and Control Wing, including our sister service partners. Many lessons learned and takeaways will allow us to build a better (exercise) the next time around."

As with any major training exercise, there are ways to make the next Joint Red Flag better.

"There are a number of items we can improve on now that we have completed this huge exercise," Colonel Murray said. "If I have to pick one item to improve on, it would be how we integrate the full training events and the venue-specific training. If we had done this a bit better during the first week of this exercise, we could have been totally successful.

"The smoothing of the flow of information among all participants, U.S. and coalition, is an area we plan to focus on in the future. We did a great job, and can look forward to only getting better," he said. "This has been a tremendous exercise and has allowed us to take the first of what I hope are many more strides toward fully joint and combined training events."

The relationships formed with the Army, Marine Corps and Navy will streamline the process of including them in both joint and Air Force-focused exercises in the future, Colonel Horn said.

Another vital and instrumental part of the exercise was the relationships formed with coalition allies, said Maj. Gen. Floyd C. Williams, Combined Forces Air and Space Component commander. The joint training achieved will have a direct impact on how wars are fought in the future. Incidents of friendly fire will be reduced in the future thanks to the hands-on experience of training with those with coalition allies.

"By working hand-in-hand with our allies, we will be saving many lives," he said. "By training together, we learn how to fight together, significantly reducing the cross-cultural learning curve and enabling us to field a more capable and lethal combined coalition force.

"Our coalition allies did a great job. The steps taken here are giant leaps in ensuring our continued relations with our allies carry on well into the future," General Williams said.

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