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Red Flag 22-1

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Caleb S. Kimmell
  • 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, NV -- Maintaining strategic deterrence through multiple avenues, including intercontinental ballistic missiles and a bomber presence that is unmatched, Air Force Global Strike Command’s mission is the cornerstone of the United States’ defense. To maintain force readiness AFGSC and several other major commands throughout the U. S. Air Force participate in a multi-national training exercise called Red Flag.
This year’s Red Flag 22-1 began Jan. 24 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, on the Nevada Test and Training Range, the U.S. Air Force’s flagship military training area. There, the U.S. Air Force and the nation’s allies have enough space to freely operate any aircraft, ground vehicle or troop movement in a controlled environment. 
Red Flag is held three times annually, providing training in preparation for realistic combat scenarios, increasing pilots’ combat effectiveness in different airframes and their interoperability with other aircraft. The 414th Combat Training Squadron conducts Red Flag exercises, providing Airmen the experience of various intensive air combat sorties in the safety of a training environment. 
AFGSC’s role in Red Flag 22-1 is to demonstrate the lethality of the 5th Bomb Wing’s B-52H Stratofortress, Whiteman AFB’s B-2 Spirit Bomber’s flexibility, and how they work with the rest of the Air Force to provide support and strategic deterrence on a world-wide scale.
Red Flag Nellis 22-1 has multiple units from across the joint force, including the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines, Space Force, Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force Reserves. The Royal Air Force (UK) and the Royal Australian Air Force also participate, bringing the total number of personnel involved at around 2,900. While the 388th Fighter Wing from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the lead wing for the exercise, over 100 aircraft participate in the exercise; ranging from strategic and stealth bombers, search and rescue aircraft, close air support, air refuelers, drones and tactical fighters all participate to sharpen their skills.
“The training prioritizes ‘first timers’ combat missions, mission commander upgrades and flag unique experiences that contribute most to readiness and partnering,” said Col. Jared Hutchinson, commander of the 414 CTS. “Participants will engage with 57th Wing professional aggressors, integrate with other units in the execution of the U.S. Air Force’s core functions of air superiority, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike and command and control, and learn in the world’s best combat debrief, while writing themselves into the next chapter of the Air Force’s heritage.”
The exercise enables AFGSC to train with other MAJCOMs and foreign allies, creating a stronger bond and unity to help maintain the competitive advantage necessary to defend the nation and enhance global security. 
“Allies attending Red Flag 22-1 will perform the same roles as our U.S. participants,” said Col. Hutchinson. “They will be mission commanders and functional leaders. They will brief and debrief missions, and they will be responsible for the myriad of leadership tasks required to generate modern air power. By training together, the U.S. and these allies ensure smooth integration and common understanding, should we be called upon to fight together in the future. The U.S.’s strong alliances are a major strategic strength that not only lends capability but also legitimacy to our international stance.”
Minot AFB’s role in Red Flag 22-1 is to provide strategic air support by way of the B-52H Stratofortress. The 5th BW’s B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet (15,166.6 meters) and can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.
The 5 BW’s culture of innovation enables Airmen and assets to operate and perform B-52H operations with unmatched skill compared to near-peer adversaries. Exercises like Red Flag enhance command and control priorities, demonstrate strength and enables personnel to retain skills.
Whiteman AFB’s B-2 Spirit Bombers and the 5 BW’s B-52s provide Red Flag with a unique set of abilities. Their joint training goal is to enhance how bombers and all of the various AFGSC mission sets, fit into the Department of Defense’s vision of deterrence and defense.
AFGSC is the foundation of long-range precision strike not only for the U.S., but also the entire free world. The Airmen of AFGSC must be prepared for tomorrow’s high-end and high-tech operational environment where they will be stressed and tested in unprecedented ways. Collectively, the wings and units that make up AFGSC are focused on modernizing and sustaining today’s fleet for tomorrow’s flight, in order to compete, deter, and win against near-peer competitors.