EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Exercise RED FLAG-Alaska 19-1 kicked off at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 4 with primary flying operations being executed over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex. Misawa Air Base’s 35th Fighter Wing is serving as the lead unit throughout the Pacific Air Forces-sponsored training.
For more than two decades, the joint-tactical combat employment exercise has focused on ally development and cohesion. U.S. military branches and armed services of multiple countries around the world come together to exchange tactics, operations techniques and procedures to improve interoperability; this RF-A iteration includes the U.S. Air Force Marine Corps, Navy and Army as well as the Finnish and Republic of Korea Air Forces.
“This exercise is crucial to mission success because it allows U.S. forces to exchange knowledge and information with our invaluable counterparts,” said Master Sgt. Tonya Wood, a 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft section chief. “If we were in a combat status, we would already have a pre-developed relationship established thanks to joint ventures like this.”
Pacific Air Forces expects this exercise to train more than 1,000 personnel in a simulated air combat environment, in which 60 aircraft will be utilized.
“This is the Air Force's premier exercise,” explained Col. Jason Cockrum, the 35th Operations Group commander and Misawa’s unit commander on the ground in Alaska. “Due to Alaska's range of air space, this training opportunity is unique and cannot be executed elsewhere. We are allotted time and space to team build and develop regional stability, which aids in enemy deterrence.”
RF-A exposes all parties to combat-like scenarios to familiarize members with high-intensity, fast-paced operations. Scenarios replicate conceivable real-world threats but in a safe and maintained environment.
“Daily operations at Misawa Air Base typically consist of standard training,” Wood explained. “However, we now have the opportunity to work with multiple mission design series, aircraft, units and countries. It's a real-time look at how to react to a conflict, without actually being exposed to it.”
The exercise wraps up Oct. 19.