Red Flag 20-2: Maximizing combat readiness, capability, survivability between forces

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A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., taxis down the runway at Nellis AFB, Nev., March 6, 2020. The Stratofortress is participating in Red Flag 20-2, a two-week combat training exercise involving Air Force, Navy, Marines and allied air forces. Air Force photographs by William Lewis

Deployed maintainers from all over the world flood the flight line turning wrenches to ensure their assigned aircraft are ready to take over the skies. This controlled chaos signifies Red Flag is back in session March 6-20, 2020, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

As one of the U.S. Air Force’s largest combat training exercises, this iteration includes participants from various services, including U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines as well as our allied forces from the Italian, German and Spanish air forces.

Red Flag exercises provide mission commanders, maintenance personnel, ground controllers, and air, space and cyber operators the opportunity to experience realistic combat scenarios to prepare for future warfare.

“Red Flag allows us to prioritize combat missions, mission commander upgrades and unique experiences that contribute most to readiness and partnering,” said Col. William Reese, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander. “This combat training exercise permits us to work with a variety of aircraft from attack, fighter and bomber to reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and Command and Control aircraft as well as ground based Command and Control, Space, and Cyber Forces.”

Aircraft and personnel deploy to Nellis for Red Flag under the Air Expeditionary Force concept and make up the exercise’s “Blue” forces. Red Flag links participants through teamwork-enforced activities which provides a more adaptable force.

The mission of the 414th CTS is to maximize the combat readiness, capability and survivability of participating units. This provides realistic, multi-domain training in a combined air, ground, space and electronic threat environment while providing opportunity for a free exchange of ideas between forces.

Red Flag ensures combat air forces are ready to win the nation’s wars and builds partnerships and interoperability among allies and across multiple domains.

“By the end of each Red Flag exercise, we build a winning team through confidence under fire and integrated leadership while cementing our warfighting culture,” said Reese. “Our Airmen will remain agile and learn from each other so that we can continue to be prepared and ready for when we meet again in another region in the world. We will continue to fly safe with sound aircraft-specific tactics, fight as core function teams and win with mutual support as integrated teams.”