EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
In a place where the sun never sets, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska has been the perfect home to more than 60 aircraft and their squadrons as they took to the skies to further readiness, strengthen interoperability with allies and challenge the status quo to ensure air superiority.
The 14th Fighter Squadron from Misawa Air Base, Japan, wrapped up Red Flag Alaska 17-2 with sharper skills and expanded knowledge.
“With 24 hours of daylight, approximately 170 sorties and more than 300 flight hours, Team Misawa’s Airmen worked relentlessly to further improve their skills and learned many valuable lessons along the way,” said Maj. Joshua Plocinski, the 14th FS assistant director of operations.
“The scenarios here are intentionally made difficult to optimize training,” Plocinski continued. “It’s challenging for us and our partner nations and it’s challenging to integrate 50 or more aircraft, organizing all for a common mission set to accomplish whatever our task is for that day.”
Approximately 1,420 assets were forward deployed, totaling approximately 2,850 flight hours dedicated by Air Forces from around the world.
“The exercise gave us the ability to integrate with different types of aircraft,” Plocinski added. “We worked alongside the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Mitsubishi F-15Js, the Republic of Korea Air Force KF-16 Fighting Falcons as well as the Marine F/A-18C Hornets, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and many more.”
Generally, commanders don’t have the opportunity to continuously fly with their fighter squadrons, however, Col. R. Scott Jobe, the 35th Fighter Wing commander, dedicated time to fly with his Airmen and participate during the final week of RF-A.
“The airspace we used for mission execution was phenomenal,” said Jobe. “I’m appreciative for Eielson giving our fighters an opportunity to hone and perfect their tactics on a multinational and multilateral level, further developing the quality of fight Misawa can bring to the battlefield.”
Not only did the pilots value their time in Eielson, but the maintenance personnel had the opportunity to refine their skills loading live munitions.
“During the exercise we loaded live ammunition and it was exciting for us,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Arbogast, a 35th Maintenance Squadron weapons team chief. “We loaded the F-16 more during RF-A than at Misawa, simply because of location. This heightened our awareness and further prepared us for a multitude of situations.”
Although weapons personnel enjoyed the training, Arbogast explained the integration piece did not come without its challenges.
“[The importance of] communication is something we all took away from this exercise,” Arbogast said. “We gained a better understanding of other aircrafts’ shops and their priorities, and we definitely learned to excel in that area to ensure smooth operations.”
While Team Misawa dedicated a lot of hard work to reinforcing tactics, Jobe said there is always room for improvement.
“As we close out this RED FLAG, I want Team Misawa to not only walk away with improved abilities, but also a deeper understanding of our allied nations and the reason we are all here,” said Jobe. “We continue to provide the deterrence and air power required to assure peace in the region, and we must maintain this into the future by continuing to give our all, no matter how big or small the job is. This is how we reassure our allies--and prove to our enemies--that our joint capabilities are more than enough to deter forces and dominate in the air."