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Union Flash

Union Flash is an annual exercise that continues the scenario from year to year. US and allied air operations planners hone their skills in a variety of scenarios, participating in the computer-simulation exercise at the Warrior Preparation Center.

The United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE) Logistics Directorate identified a long-standing requirement to train Air Force decision makers and logistics professionals in the sustainment of contingency and combat operations using computer-assisted exercises (CAX) as a training medium. Sustaining a combat or contingency operation logistically can be every bit as challenging as supporting it operationally. Accordingly, USAFE logistics leaders conceived a practical training tool, Logistics Simulation (LOGSIM), for exercising command logistics capabilities. Initial successes in four USAFE CAXs (Exercises UNION FLASH 96/97/98 and TRAILBLAZER 97) led to wider Air Force interest in LOGSIM, resulting in support for continued development and use outside of USAFE in Exercises ULCHI FOCUS LENS 98/99 and Joint Expeditionary Forces Experiment 99.

More than 1,100 people took part in Union Flash '98, including military members from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. The air component staff planned daily air operations over a fictional area, then put the information into computers, which acted and reacted under the guidance of military members playing opposing forces. Exercise computers and the people who ran them factored in such events as terrorist strikes, maintenance problems and military actions -- even how unrest in the fictional region affected the stock market.

The operation brought together the capabilities of fighters, airlifters, reconnaissance, tankers, ground support and electronic warfare aircraft to support noncombatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance missions and enforcement of an air-exclusion zone. Though most of the input and output for the exercise came from computers, shouts of "Scud attack" over the public address system and nightly news reports by GNN, the in-house news network team, kept the training and action as real as possible.

One item people took from the training was the knowledge of how to work with other services. Navy and Air Force aviators have typically had different ways of doing business -- this exercise helped them learn what capabilities the other service has and how to use them effectively. Everything from planes to communications systems and radar had to be integrated to work effectively. The exercise was an opportunity to get up to speed on a wide variety of hardware.

The militaries of other countries also had to fit into the big picture because the exercise reflects what happens in real contingencies.

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