By Master Sgt. Stacia Zachary
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The 34th Combat Training Squadron and U.S. Army personnel worked closely with coalition forces from Sweden, New Zealand and Australia during the Green Flag Little Rock 16-06 exercise April 14-24 at Little Rock Air Force Base and Ft. Polk, La.
“Since GFLR is not driven by a set training syllabus, each exercise is tailored to each individual unit’s requirements,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Charles Brown, 19th Airlift Wing commander. “No two exercises are the same and that helps the Mobility enterprise by continuing to challenge their warfighting skills while providing real-world experiences with partners they may not be able to get with home-station training.”
Currently, along with U.S. service members from the Air Force and Army participating, there are also 100 international partners. This partnership helps ensure better cohesion between the forces which allows for more successful deployment and humanitarian missions.
“Our coalition partners are crucial to the overall success of contingency operations around the world,” Brown said. “All recent major military actions have been undertaken in conjunction with our coalition partners, and we should take every opportunity we can to train with them. The participation of our international partners in Green Flag Little Rock provides each nation a broader perspective on the capabilities and limitations we each bring to the theater.”
The wealth of information gained by working together in a joint training environment fosters new and innovative ways to address and confront situations and challenges.
“We use this training as inspiration on how to do things differently,” said Swedish Air Force Lt. John Adamsson, 71st Tactical Airlift Squadron pilot. “The volume of participants involved in this exercise and the airspace available provides great context for us. Exercises such as Green Flag allows us some of the best training opportunities mainly because we can really interact in a manner we would while working with other countries in real engagements.”
Improving on mission management, situational awareness and weather planning are all goals in the green flag exercise.
“Prior to GFLR execution, the Airmen of the 34th Combat Training Squadron integrate (Mobility Air Forces), Army and coalition objectives into a dynamic, free-play training scenario designed to challenge the operational skills of mobility aircrews, ground support personnel and Army logistics,” Brown explained. “This partnership training is done under the purview of a Joint Staff accreditation, on behalf of Air Mobility Command, and for the realistic training of the joint warfighters that will have to accomplish these tasks in an overseas combat environment.”
The crossflow of information and the lessons learned from exercises such as Green Flag serve as building blocks for working in joint and coalition environments.
“Everything we learn here we can employ when we work together in real-world conflicts,” said Royal Australian Air Force Sgt. Xavier Sheriff, 37th Squadron C-130 loadmaster. “We have worked with the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan but not to this extent. Next time we work together, we will be better prepared which will make our integration on the battlefield more effective while improving our interoperability.”
Green Flag Little Rock provides the most realistic, tactical-level, joint combat employment training, tailored to mobility Air Force needs with the end goal of improving mission management, situational awareness and airspace compliance with joint and coalition forces.