EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
RED FLAG-Alaska 17-1, the first RF-A for fiscal year 17 and the last RF-A of this calendar year, officially kicked-off here Oct. 6.
RF-A is a Pacific Air Forces’ commander-directed training exercise using the world’s premier Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex which is the largest instrumented air, ground and electronic combat training range in the world, covering more than 67,000 square miles.
“We’re here to promote peace among our allies,” said Col. David Mineau, the 354th Fighter Wing commander. “We are here to train with a ready to fight tonight attitude.”
More than 60 aircraft and hundreds of participants from partnering units around the world have come to train and learn not only in the air, but also on the ground.
Col. Larry Card, the 51st Operations Group commander assigned to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, and the deployed forces commander for RF-A 17-1, said this exercise gives all personnel, from aircrew to maintenance and support Airmen, an opportunity to train and use their skills in a simulated combat environment.
“Overall, we aim to get the aircraft in the air,” said Card. “But the ability to integrate and interoperate will be key to our success. We need to keep the mission our focus over the next two weeks.”
Lt. Col. Travis Ruhl, the 353rd Combat Training Squadron commander, said safety is key to this exercise, as with any other exercise. The training received during RF-A is harder than war should be.
“Our goals are to educate, integrate, execute and learn,” said Ruhl. “We should bring back timeless lessons to our units for others to use and learn.”
This will be the coldest RF-A of the year, presenting new challenges to participating units.
“Be prepared for the cold,” said Col. Brian Toth, the 354th Operations Group commander. “Wear an extra layer and don’t get caught unprepared.”
Participating units at Eielson include the 18th Aggressor Squadron, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; 36th and 25th Fighter Squadrons, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea; 44th Fighter Squadron, Kadena AB, Japan; Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron 232, Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, California; 168th Air Refueling Squadron, Eielson; 210th Rescue Squadron, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; 25th Air Support Operations Squadron, Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii; 821st Contingency Response Group, Travis AFB, California; and units from the Republic of Korea, Israel, and Sweden.
Units participating out of Joint Base Elmendrof-Richardson include the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron, Kadena; 962nd AACS, JBER; 517th Airlift Squadron, JBER; 535th AS, Joint-Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; 62nd AS, Little Rock AFB, Arkansas; 40th AS, Dyess AFB, Texas; 621st CRG, Travis; and units from the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and various U.S. Army units.