NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — A joint, total force representation of Space Operations experts gained beneficial experience during Red Flag 15-2 from Feb. 26 to March 13 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
This was the first linked exercise with tactical, operational and virtual tactical participants, according to Lt. Col. Trae York, Director of Space Forces for 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
“Virtual operations refers to actual tactical players in plane simulators flying routes, air tasking orders, and using special instructions directed by the live operation center players,” York said. “Constructive refers to flights planned in the ATO being flown in the models and simulator tools.”
The goal of this exercise for the space team was to focus on team interaction and integration vice individual skills, according to York.
Overall the training simulated major combat operations in an anti-access/aerial denied environment. The air operations center directed over 2,000 sorties a day in the live, constructive and virtual realms.
“The job of the space team is to provide relevant information to the other combat operations division teams, precisely and timely,” York explained. “For example, if systems detect a SCUD launch, the space team’s job is to identify the threat, determine its location, then interpret and pass the information to a dynamic target team.” This then sets off a chain of events, involving multiple teams and disciplines, to determine a follow-on tactics to then eliminate that threat. This process fulfilled the space team’s goal.
Working with the deployed space team were in-house subject matter experts Maj. Phil Mudahka and Maj. Brandon Davenport from Nellis, as well as Maj. John Edwards, space duty officer from the Illinois Air National Guard.
“Major Mudahka ensured the [simulators] and models worked correctly, and provided the initial spin-up and the best practices gleaned from his experiences working Red Flags,” York explained. “[Davenport] provided that next-level understanding, the links and nodes that enable data and information, the intricacies of space enabled capabilities and insight into the relevancy of space capabilities in the AOC.”
The deployed members said they were grateful for the opportunity to learn and experience operating from within an air operations center.
“Everyone I’ve worked with tin the Space Cell has been amazing and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to them for all their knowledge and experience that they provided,” said Staff Sgt. Clint Yager, 2nd Space Warning Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.
York said working in the AOC enables the deployed space team an opportunity to understand the relevancy of what happens at the operational level, which, in turn, enables them to be better operators at home.
This sentiment was echoed by Tech. Sgt. Brodie Burbach, from the 380th Space Control Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
“This event added a ton to my knowledge base, which will increase my value to the Air Force,” Burbach said. “I would love to do this mission real world.”
Staff Sgt. Thomas Brummet from the 460th Operations Support Squadron at Buckley AFB, Colo., agreed. “It feels good to be kind of like a liaison for space,” Brummet said. “Everything that I’ve learned makes me that much better of an operator. It’s great to see how working the air operations center can be so rewarding; it’s easy to see the impact of your actions.”
In addition to York, Yager, Burbach and Brummet, the space team included Total Force and joint team members from the U.S. Army’s 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command from Ft. Bliss,Texas, and the 19th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo.