Royal Australian Air Force personnel led a multi-national, multi-service Air Operations Center at the first [and possibly only?] Red Flag exercise for 2020 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, from 27 January to 14 February.
CAPTION: RAAF personnel in the Air Operations Center at Red Flag 20-1. US Air Force photo by Shelton Keel.
Red Flag’s primary objective is to provide readiness training in major combat operations while providing operational-level participants the opportunity to plan and employ live, virtual, and/or constructive tactical entities in a contested, degraded and operationally-limited (CDO) environment against a near-peer threats.
The Royal Australian Air Force led the Air Operations Center (AOC) with augmentation from Coalition (Royal Australian Air Force and Navy, Royal Air Force and Navy), Joint (US Air Force, US Marine Corps, US Army, and US Navy), Air National Guard, Air Reserve Command and active duty AOCs, Air Operations Groups, Air Operations Squadrons, and Intelligence Squadrons.
RAAF Squadron Leader Shaun Reece said the Aussies had learnt quite a lot in the mission-planning space, in particular, how to plan a defensive cyber-operations mission and how to integrate it into an Air Operations Center.
“Our team in Australia operates within the Australian Air Operations Centre, but some of the tactics being used here on RF are quite unique in the sense of the complexity of the mission and the adversary that we’re facing,” Squadron Leader Reece said.
“We’ve learned a lot in terms of mission planning and how to integrate our capability into a coalition environment, as well as some of the TTPs.”
Twenty-one units from three countries, 91 aircraft, 317 air, space, and cyber personnel, 461 aircrew, 912 maintenance, and 242 support personnel attended RF 20-1 for joint and coalition operational and tactical-level training.
Air, space, and cyber participants were trained in 68 joint strategic and operational objectives across the exercise operational Joint Operations Area.
A total of 279 non-kinetic (NKO) lines were planned, and 267 lines were executed.
RAF Wing Commander Tim Adcock said Red Flag was a great mix of different nations with their own ways and means of doing business, and their own capabilities as well.
“With the different platforms that come here, it’s a unique opportunity right now for the UK in terms of seeing and learning from space operators and non-kinetic effects operators.”
Defensive Cyber Operations teams successfully protected communication infrastructure against 241 of 351 cyber-attacks.
Dates for future Red Flag exercises are currently marked TBD – to be determined – which, given the size and complexity of planning required, presumably means the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting dates.