NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Green Flag-West 13-10 provided the German air force the ability to train on air-to-ground tactics and to certify the Guided Bomb Unit 54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Monition Sept. 3 through Sept. 13.
One hundred and eighty members from the 33rd Fighter Bomber Wing from Buechel Air Base, Germany, came to Nellis AFB to participate in Green Flag to certify a weapon system as well as gain firsthand experience working with the U.S. Air Force.
“[The training is] very effective because we have great ranges to drop the bomb for the certification,” said German air force Master Sgt. Steffen Werking-Eckes. “The experience is good, the people are great here, [and] it’s the best place to be [because of the space to work with]. For us, it is a great place to upload the bombs and maintain the aircraft [providing] good training for the pilots.”
German air force Lt. Col. Markus Neitzke, 1st Fighter Bomber Squadron commander, agrees the training received during the Green Flag exercise was valuable.
“We get to have some training possibilities here we don’t have back in Germany. For example, today we were conducting missions with OH-58 helicopters,” Neitzke said. “We get really great opportunities because of the air space available. Another benefit [we get when] training with another air force is we can exchange training, tactic and procedures. We definitely learn from each other.”
During exercise execution, Green Flag staff members’ direct, monitor and instruct visiting units in the conduct of air operations in support of ground forces. To aid in this mission, the 549th Combat Training Squadron maintains a cadre of current and qualified air-to-ground experts who fly with visiting squadrons during most exercises. When not actively flying in the exercises, the same cadre provides exercise oversight and ensures the highest level of integration between air and ground forces.
Capt. Jennifer Morton, 549th CTS A-Flight commander, stressed the importance of working with coalition partners.
“It’s obviously very important [because] we all count on each other for a lot of things,” Morton said. “The Germans are great to work with. They are very professional [and] have done a really great job so far. It’s probably even more important [for them] because they get really good training coming out here [that] they can’t get in Europe. [For example,] with the Army and the [U.S. Air Force] joint terminal attack controllers on the ground at Fort Erwin [, Calif.], they are able to instruct the German JTAC on how to do their job better.”
Morton goes on to explain the advantages of working with coalition partners.
“It benefits us because we get to learn how other coalition partners do their job,” Morton said. “It [also] helps both us, and our coalition partners, learn how we execute [during training], and how we will execute [the mission] in war.”
For the German air force, the main objective during the exercise was to gain a NATO certification and accreditation on the GBU 54 LJDAM bomb by the end of Green Flag. By flying numerous missions to evaluate the weapon system on the Tornado Interdictor/Strike Fighter-Bomber, an evaluator will access the munitions capability.
“Once the NATO inspector gives the thumbs up, we will be certified to use the [GBU] 54 in any conflict.” said Lt.Col. Thomas Leibinger, 33rd Fighter Bomber Wing detachment commander.
Green Flag-West exercises provide participants with a realistic air to land combat training experience. This Green Flag had the extra benefit of providing the German air force with NATO certification and accreditation on the GBU 54.