Airmen from the 55th Electronic Combat Group here participated in Red Flag 13-3 at Nellis AFB, Nev., Feb. 25 – March 15.
Red Flag 13-3 was a three-week joint and coalition exercise in which aircrews from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as several foreign militaries’ air forces, train and maintain their combat readiness in a peacetime “battlefield.”
Operating two EC-130H Compass Calls, the 55th ECG played a unique role in the exercise flying on both the blue-air (friendly) and red-air (enemy) side of the exercise.
On the blue-air side, the crews from the 55th ECG practiced their combat roles: mission planning, integrating with other friendly weapons and jamming systems, striking targets in the enemy battle space and defending friendly assets.
On the red-air side, they acted as enemy communication jammers in accordance with Air Combat Command’s idea of contested, degraded operations, providing training friendly forces do not usually receive.
“In reality, the enemy always has a say in the outcome of a conflict,” said Lt. Col. Chris Kirschman, 55th ECG deputy commander and deployed commander for the exercise. “In the past, many non-kinetic effects, such as radar and communication jamming, have not been incorporated into large force exercises. A major objective for this Red Flag was to provide our forces with a contested and degraded operational environment.”
As the opposition, the 55th ECG took away capabilities from blue-side forces, compelling them to react and operate at a reduced capacity.
Ninety-four Airmen from the 55th ECG went to the Red Flag 13-3. Nine of those Airmen were recognized as superior performers.
“Our maintenance troops were especially effective,” Kirschman said. “They had better than a 92-percent mission capable rate of getting us in the air, which is well of above the standard.”
Kirschman said that the pace at which they worked was equivalent to being in a deployed location, and all the troops were very flexible and hit the ground running to complete a mission that they have not focused on in a while.
Due to continuous deployment orders, the 55th ECG has only been able to participate in three Red Flag exercises since 2002.
“Red Flag has given us an opportunity to get back to focusing on our traditional mission set,” Kirschman said. “For the last twelve years, with the exception of just a few months, we’ve been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan performing counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism missions. This exercise has been a great chance to get back to basics and execute our primary mission.”