New York Air National Guard Participates in Future Flag

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daniel Meade,
  • 107th Attack Wing Public Affairs

NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE BASE, N.Y., – The New York Air National Guard’s 274th Air Support Operations Squadron, part of the 107th Attack Wing, participated in a training operation headed by the Air Force Research Lab in Upstate N.Y., Aug. 6-7.

Their training played a part in a larger series of experiments known as Future Flag, which tests experimental and emerging technology and its uses in tactical situations. The 274th’s objective was to provide strategic data in real-time through different techniques, testing their capabilities in high-stress situations.

Using equipment that is classified today but will someday be common for the Airmen, the 274th trained by conducting a 24-hour operation providing reconnaissance data on a simulated enemy while avoiding contact with them.

The data was collected and disseminated for research to the more than 20 government organizations in attendance, including the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing, the 106th Rescue Wing, and more.

Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell, commander of the New York Air National Guard, met with the Airmen of the 274th during a visit to the Future Flag operation.

She shared her appreciation for what the Airmen were doing and said that being in the National Guard is hard because you leave your job on Friday to start a 24-hour operation, hike in the mountains, and then return to work on Monday.

“Accelerate, change or lose,” the words of Gen. Charles Brown Jr., chief of staff of the Air Force, echoed back and forth throughout the weekend.

With accelerating change as the event’s agenda, the organizers realized that a part of change is learning to fail forward.

Peter LaMonica, the Future Flag program director from the AFRL, said that some training environments have a limited window of opportunity to accomplish objectives, with little room for failure.

Future Flag is designed to allow individuals to continue to come back to the project with fresh ideas and try again with accurate data in real-time, he continued.

Future Flag’s flexibility made way for the 274th tactical air control party specialists to provide data for research while also allowing them to test new technology they weren’t familiar with, providing feedback in real-time.

One TACP said they still have much to learn about reconnaissance and new technology.

LaMonica agreed, “there’s a cool synergy happening here where failure is accepted, not shunned,” he said. “Come as you are, test your products and capabilities and utilize the people around you.

“This information that we’re gathering is invaluable and not just to the AFRL, but I think it’s incredibly valuable to the 274th and all the players we have as part of this,” he continued.

The Airmen of the 274th agreed and reiterated that point, exclaiming the value of hands-on training with experimental and innovative tools and learning to use them while on the move.

LaMonica said that whether your job is in a research lab, designing a product, or working in a tactile situation, Future Flag provides the unique opportunity to fail and learn to improve on it.

“Find your limits,” he said, “and learn to exceed past them.”