GREEN FLAG 08-10 strengthens integration of U.S., French armed forces

Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

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A GREEN FLAG exercise concluded at Nellis AFB (NV) Sept. 26, wrapping up two weeks of close-air-support training for U.S. and French air forces.

GREEN FLAG 08-10, which began Sept. 12, trained French and U.S. air forces to work better together providing close-air-support to U.S. and allied ground forces in deployed locations like Iraq and Afghanistan.

GREEN FLAG, run by the 549th Combat Training Squadron here, provides a realistic close-air-support training environment for aircrews preparing to deploy. Personnel perform missions in realistic combat scenarios over the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

The exercise included 14 F-15Es from the 492nd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England; 3 Mirage F1s from the French Air Force; an MQ-9 from the 42nd Attack Squadron at Creech AFB; an E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System from the 116th Air Control Wing at Robins AFB, Ga. and an RC-135 from the 55th Wing at Offut AFB, Neb.

GREEN FLAG 08-10 marked the French Air Force’s second participation in GREEN FLAG here. Sixty-three French airmen made the trip from France to Nellis AFB to learn and train in an American environment.

“We have to learn about and integrate into [U.S.] culture,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Oudot, commander of the French detachment at GREEN FLAG. “The best way to do that is to be here.”

French airmen and soldiers will use the training they received at GREEN FLAG when fighting alongside American troops in Operation Enduring Freedom.

“We fight side-by-side with Americans in Afghanistan,” said Colonel Oudot. “When you are in war is not the time to discover your allies–that is too late. We have to train side-by-side and be combat-ready.”

French and U.S. interaction extended beyond the GREEN FLAG exercise itself. The personnel ate together, drank together, and even faced off in a soccer match. France tied the U.S. with a score of 1-1.

“The interaction between U.S. and French troops is value-added at all levels,” said Maj. Paul Kirmis, 549th CTS director of operations.

Throughout GREEN FLAG 08-10, the joint team of Airmen and Soldiers from the 116th ACW provided a spectrum of capabilities to both air and ground forces with the JSTARS.
JSTARS is a system that provides airborne battle management and command and control. It involves an E-8C aircraft, equipped with advanced radar and communications equipment, working with an Army Common Ground Station. JSTARS can also function as an air support operations center.

The 21-person JSTARS crew includes a 3-person flight crew and 18 operators. While most of the crew is U.S. Air Force, it also includes Army Soldiers as airborne target surveillance supervisors, working with ground troops to process Army requests.

“By doing this exercise and by us participating, Soldiers will have a better perspective of what we [in JSTARS] can give them,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paula Authorlee, 116th ACW airborne target surveillance supervisor. “When they are over there deployed, it won’t be anything new.”

“We want to get the Army troops the most realistic training for their battle-space and better execute joint operations,” said Capt. Ethan Johnson, 116th ACW sensor officer.

In a concluding ceremony Sept. 26, Lt. Col. Ron Hanselman, 549th CTS commander, and Brig. Gen. Stephen L. Hoog, United States Air Force Warfare Center commander, shared reflections on the GREEN FLAG exercise.

“This was really, really one of the best exercises I’ve seen with a coalition partner,” said Colonel Hanselman.

“I think we all have the same vision: helping people and spreading freedom,” said General Hoog, speaking to a crowd of French and U.S. troops. “I think there is nothing that any of us here wouldn’t do for a fellow soldier.”

Jennifer Richards

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