Red Flag’s heartbeat: Core unit arrives at Nellis AFB

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada — The 1st Fighter Wing’s aircrews and support personnel out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, arrived at Nellis Air Force Base Jan.17 and 18, to participate in Red Flag 17-1, as the exercise’s core unit.

Red Flag, a three-week combat training exercise involving U.S. and allied forces’ air, space and cyber domains, kicked off Jan. 22, on a simulated battlefield over the skies of the Nevada Test and Training Range north of Las Vegas. Throughout the training exercise, Airmen support their units in defeating aggressors including realistic threat systems and opposing enemy forces, providing all domains the ability to train collectively for contingencies in a safe environment to increase the combat capabilities for any future combat situation.

“This year we are the core unit, meaning we are the heartbeat for Red Flag,” said Capt. Matthew Siverio, the Red Flag 17-1 core unit project officer. “Each member that is attached to the core unit will utilize their expertise to match the expectations of the Red Flag Air Expeditionary Wing commander to ultimately make this the most successful Red Flag we can.”

According to Master Sgt. Erick Matos, the Red Flag 17-1 superintendent, as the exercise’s core unit, the 1st FW has the added challenge of not only conducting its own air-to-air and cyber mission taskings, but also supporting Red Flag’s U.S. and allied forces.

“We are ensuring over 30 different units and over 3,000 individuals form not only the U.S., but partner nations like the United Kingdom and Australia as well as our sister services have all the resources they need and require to learn and execute the best way of employing a combined large-force package in a live-fly environment,” Matos explained.

Siverio anticipates that facilitating successful countering of air, space and cyber threats by all participating units will take a team effort lead by the 1st FW.

“We’re here as a core unit to help all other participating units by lending our expertise and ensuring they have all the necessary resources they need to meet the objectives set out by Red Flag staff and their respective units,” Siverio said, adding that such groundwork can range from augmenting core members to fill duty gaps and tasking other to units to achieve exercise needs.

For Matos, succeeding as the core unit is simple; ensure all duty requirements are met and support wherever help is needed.

“We will overcome challenges merely by having the correct and experienced core personnel assigned to each Air Force specialty code required,” Matos said. “This will ensure that all personnel have all necessary assets and support, in order to achieve the commander’s mission intent.”