From bytes to battle: How Red Flag-Alaska Airmen use technology and training to ensure success

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Julia Lebens
  • JBER Public Affairs

Red Flag-Alaska is an exercise designed to allow U.S. and allied military forces to exchange and exercise tactics, techniques, and procedures so all members are capable and ready to face whatever challenges may arise. For this exercise to be possible and effective, it is vital for specially trained Airmen to use their skills and tools to gather and disperse information. 

The White Force Control Center is one of the tools Red Flag staff at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson use to ensure safety and gather information while participating forces hone their battle skills over the Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex. The WFCC contains computer screens communicating real time information about where Red Flag aircraft are across 77,000 square miles of the JPARC.  

“The personnel in the WFCC ensure the safety of flight and successful training for Red Flag participants,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Montel Ellliot, the lead JBER Red Flag-Alaska all-source intelligence analyst assigned to 354th Operations Group, Detachment 1. “Not only is there a WFCC at JBER, but Eielson [Air Force Base] also has the same capability as well.” 

While these aircraft conduct complex battle practice, simulating engagement with surface-to-air missiles and dogfighting, Airmen observe as neutral players. They ensure safety and gather information that will be used to debrief the pilots and crew who will use that data to ensure best practices are being used and learned.  

Intelligence Airmen also play an important role in the gathering and disseminating of crucial information. Before the exercise even begins, Airmen work to gather data that will be used to plan the exercise in a way that will strengthen participant’s skills while simulating potential real-world threats.  

“I provide information about threats on the ground and in the air,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Michelle Herrera, an all source intelligence analyst assigned to the 22nd Operations Support Squadron, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. “We provide them with a detailed air picture with specific threats and how they could take that information to then plan so they can have a successful mission.” 

Mass briefs conducted before and after the exercise, and daily throughout, are used to disseminate information and lessons learned. Red Flag participants wouldn’t be successful without the hard work done by various Airmen and civilians who work to plan, analyze, and distribute all types of vital information. Personnel, air traffic control, airfield management and safety specialists, as well as planners are just a few of the supporting career fields using their specialized training to support large exercises like Red Flag-Alaska.  

Without all of these Airmen and civilians, units participating would be unable to train, develop and improve interoperability, and enhance their readiness skills.