NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Green Flag-West 14-08 concluded June 27 as the largest scale Green Flag exercise ever conducted.
The exercise, spanned from June 13 to 27, and included participants from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines.
On average, all four military services, including the guard and reserve components along with multiple coalition air forces, participate in ten Green Flag exercises each year.
Green Flag exercises provide critical joint training for approximately 75,000 joint and coalition personnel per year, including 3,000 sorties, 6,000 flight hours and the expenditure of over 700,000 pounds of live and training ordnance.
“It’s about the joint operations on a large scale,” said Maj. Shaun Cheema, 4th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations out of Hill AFB, Utah.
One of the highlights of the joint operations during this Green Flag was the Air Operations in Maritime Surface Warfare.
“Green Flag-West is one of only two Air Combat Command exercises that offer Air Operations in Maritime Surface Warfare training, a joint mission which involves integrating Naval and Air Force assets.” Maj. Dani Smith, 549th Combat Training Squadron assistant director of operations. “During this exercise the U.S. Air Force Airborne Warning and Control System and Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System joined the U.S. Navy E-2 Hawkeyes from Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center, Calif., in directing F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, in conducting combat training missions over the Pacific Ocean to better prepare our exercise participants for future conflicts.”
According to the Green Flag-West factsheet, during exercise execution, members of the 549th CTS direct, monitor and instruct visiting units in the conduct of air operations in support of ground forces.
To aid in this endeavor, the 549th CTS 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 cadres provide exercise oversight and ensure the highest level of integration between air and ground forces.
“What we are practicing is providing [ground personnel] with close air support,” said Maj. Dan Willems, JSTARS director of operations. “We can see where the enemy is coming from, using our radar, at a greater standoff range then any of their organic assets.”
According to Cheema the reason for the increased size of the exercise can be contributed to the change to the type of operation highlighted in Green Flag-West 14-08.
“We are doing more major combat operations during this [exercise] where the previous ones have been more oriented toward Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom type scenarios and this one is more [about] big Army movement,” Cheema said. “You’ll never see as many [Soldiers] on the ground actually moving around at any given time [like this]. You can see some of their large exercises, but not with all the support assets, real life threats, the fighters that are circling around with you and not without the multitude of joint terminal attack controller and tactical air control party members on the ground.”
Green Flag-West 14-08 marked the largest Green Flag exercise to date, in support of the U.S. Army’s National Training Center, at Fort Irwin, Calif., providing invaluable combat training to joint and coalition warfighters in the art of air-surface integration and the joint employment of airpower.