Defense

October 19, 2016
 

NTTR: Tip of readiness spear

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Airman 1st Class Kevin Tanenbaum
Nellis AFB, Nev.

C-17 Globemaster IIIs, fly in formation over the Nevada Test and Training Range during the Joint Forcible Entry Exercise portion of the United States Air Force Weapons School Advanced Integration, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 16, 2016. The exercise is the U.S. Air Force Weapons School biannual collaboration that, according to an Air Force fact sheet, exercises the Air Force’s ability to tactically deliver and recover combat forces via air drops and combat landings in a contested environment.

Spanning Southern Nevada lies the crown jewel for tactics, training and operational testing for the Department of Defense: the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The NTTR affords joint and coalition military forces, not solely Airmen, the ability to train for any obstacle of warfare by providing the ability to train in air, space and cyberspace domains.

“The NTTR provides the warfighter a flexible, realistic and multidimensional battle-space to conduct testing, tactics development, and advanced training in support of U.S. national interests,” said Col. David Avila, Nevada Test and Training Range commander. “Supporting approximately 40,000 sorties each year, the range occupies 2.9 million acres of land, 5,000 square miles of airspace which is restricted from civilian over-flight and another 7,000 square miles of military operations area, or MOA, which is shared with civilian aircraft.”

Centered around all of the NTTR’s unique assets, the DOD uses this vast landscape to host a variety of its largest joint exercises.

“The Air Force conducts a wide array of activities that include munitions tests, large scale force-on-force maneuvers, joint training and irregular warfare training missions,” said Avila. “The NTTR also supports Department of Defense training, as well as Department of Energy testing, research and development.”

“The range hosts numerous Red Flag and U.S. Air Force Weapons School exercises each year, as well as various test and tactics development missions. With over 260 target complexes and over 2,900 possible targets, 35 threat systems and the support of an opposing enemy force that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world, the NTTR is home to America’s most advanced aerial test and training environment, providing Airmen with a stressing battlefield to hone their combat skills,” said Avila.

With all the capabilities on the massive land range of Nevada, the 8 million square mile Space Test and Training Range, located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., has proven to be just as crucial in the development of tactics and training to the modern warfighter.

 “It’s a one-of-a-kind testing, training and tactics development asset, and truly a national treasure,” said Maj. Gen. Glen VanHerck, United States Air Force Warfare Center commander. “There is nowhere else on the planet where you can simultaneously use the airspace, bring in the space capabilities through our Space Test and Training Range and also bring in our cyberspace capabilities. Today’s fights are not one dimensional, meaning air only, they are truly all domains—physical and virtual, air, land, sea and cyber. The NTTR allows us to provide realistic and relevant threat replication and capability to train and ensure that our forces are able to thrive and operate on a daily basis.”

Because of the multiple platforms of training the NTTR provides, the land and space components of the range serve as an asset for joint operations in the DOD.

“The NTTR is an asset of the United States of America, all Department of Defense agencies, national security agencies including other governmental agencies and our allied partners,” said VanHerck. “We routinely bring partners to the NTTR to train just as if we were going to go into combat with them, and that is a crucial capability for us.  All this success comes at a price as our ability to meet warfighter requirements has exceeded our capacity.  We continue to look for innovative ways to address these issues, but the reality is it will likely get worse before it gets better as 5th generation aircraft stretch the capabilities of our range.”

While the NTTR is a vital factor in making sure combat forces are at peak performance, it is the Airmen and other military members who accomplish this mission and are a special commodity to the DOD.

“I’m very proud to be a part of the NTTR and STTR,” said Avila. “There is a lot more to the range than just the range. Behind every square mile are the many people who accomplish the mission; from scheduling to logistics to target and emitter lifecycle management–we have a team who are passionate about what they do and are constantly finding ways to make it better through innovative thinking.  This is the epicenter of the most advanced training in the world and we are all proud to be part of such a storied history.” 




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