Adapt To Win – Green Flag-West 23-02
by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Zachary Rufus
The 549th Combat Training Squadron
successfully operated a disaggregated, multi-service Green Flag-West
exercise November 2-9, 2022 that integrated U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force
command and control, tactical units, and intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance, while operating from multiple locations across
the west coast.
Green Flag participants staged out of U.S.
Navy and U.S. Marine Corps bases along the coast of California
placed the joint force in a realistic environment where they can
practice deterrence and defense against growing threats in the
Indo-Pacific operations theater.
Flag-West exercises were air-to-ground primarily executed in
conjunction with U.S. Army exercises at the National Training Center
at Ft. Irwin, California. In an effort to modernize and strengthen
our military for strategic competition, the 549th CTS used Green
Flag-West 23-02 to focus on facilitating air operations in maritime
surface warfare missions, air-to-surface.
November 7, 2022 - U.S. Air Force A-10C
Thunderbolt IIs assigned to the 66th Weapons Squadron,
Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, sit on the flight line at
Naval Air Station North Island, California. In an effort to modernize and strengthen our military for strategic competition, the 549th Combat Training Squadron used Green Flag-West 23-02 to focus on facilitating air operations in maritime surface warfare missions, air-to-surface. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Rufus.)
the Army is easier because Green Flag-West has been doing that since
1981,” said Capt. Joseph Cole, 549th CTS assistant director of
operations. “Integrating with the Navy isn’t something that the Air
Force usually gets to do on a unit-level and in order to win in a
maritime fight, we’re going to need each other.”
challenge both services faced was trying to accomplish the same
mission while learning each other’s languages.
“If we don’t
practice and go through the struggles now to execute the translation
errors, we will fail,” said Maj. Taylor Raasch, 66th Weapons
Squadron instructor and project officer. “We try to teach our
students to go out and talk to other services, learn their language
and understand how they operate. At the end of the day, as a good
communicator, you have to speak and understand their language in
order to provide the effect that we all want to move forward with -
which is to win.”
Aside from translation challenges, the two
services worked cohesively to execute any mission set they were
tasked with executing.
“A concern we had in the planning
phase of Green Flag was ‘how are we going to find the boats?’” said
Cole. “We know we can kill them, but how can we find them and target
Upon acting as a joint force, they came to learn the
U.S. Navy is very good at it.
“It seems very obvious, but
they find the ship like you wouldn’t believe; it’s quick and it's
accurate,” said Cole. “I think both sides learned a lot from this.
We learned to give those responsibilities to the people that should
be managing them. From the Navy’s perspective, when they locate an
enemy ship, they have to put a boat in position to strike, which can
take a while, when an aircraft can strike in minutes.”
66th Weapons Squadron, along with the help of the 549th CTS, 29th
WPS, 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and Navy Special Warfare
partners, was able to successfully load a DATM-160, a training
version of the ADM-160 Miniature Air-Launched Decoy, onto an A-10
placed on an austere island off the coast of Naval Air Station North
The A-10 can carry up to 16 MALDs, the
same quantity as the B-52, and 12 more than the F-16. When launched
from an aircraft, the MALD, like a cruise missile, can mimic the
radar returns of any American aircraft in service – buying time and
survivability for the blue forces by making the targeting problem
more complicated for the enemy.
In this iteration of Green
Flag, the 66th WPS took “Accelerate Change or Lose” personally.
Raasch added, “What we, (the A-10), can do to help support the
5th generation fight in support of a pacing threat is provide the
unique capability to carry a multitude of weapons and work in
austere environments. We can help provide effects in the
Indo-Pacific operations theatre.”
Air Force A-10 pilots
integrated with Navy H-60Rs, E-2s, P-8s and Navy SEALs. The Navy
benefited as well, integrating their C2 and ISR platforms with the
U-2, Distributed Ground System and other non-traditional C2 methods
they do not normally train with.
The units moved to several
locations throughout the exercise, including San Clemente Island,
and executed expeditionary operations with the support of Navy SEALs
and U.S. Air Force C-130s from the 29th WPS.
November 7, 2022 - U.S. Air Force Capt. Matthew Frizzell, 29th Weapons Squadron pilot, scans the surrounding airspace aboard a C-130J Hercules during a Green Flag-West 23-02 mission over the Pacific Ocean. The 549th Combat Training Squadron successfully operated a disaggregated, multi-service Green Flag-West exercise Nov. 2-9, that integrated U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force command and control, tactical units, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, while operating from multiple locations across the west coast. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Rufus.)
"I could not be
prouder of the integration that our team and these units
accomplished during Green Flag-West 23-02,” said Lt. Col Matthew
Keilen, 549th CTS commander. “We look forward to furthering
multi-service maritime integration in the future."
Our Valiant Troops |
I Am The One |
Citizens Like Us
U.S. Air Force |
Air National Guard
U.S. Air Force Gifts |