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'Green Flag' keeps Airmen, Soldiers mission ready

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"If the band played a piece first with the piccolo, then with the brass horn, then with the clarinet, and then with the trumpet, there would be a lot of noise, but no music," said Gen. George S. Patton during World War II. "To get harmony in the music, each instrument must support the others. To get harmony in battle, each weapon must support the others. Team play wins."

In true teamwork fashion, approximately 165 Airmen and 12 F-15E Strike Eagles from the 335th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., traveled to Barksdale AFB, La., to participate in Green Flag East. This exercise, taking place Oct. 8-20, is a simulated combat operation held between Barksdale Air Force Base and Fort Polk, La., to employ close air support and hone communication between air and ground forces.

Green Flag East supports the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, which trains soldiers in highly realistic combat environments.

"The integration of Army and Air Force assets is vital to the mission," said Maj. Jennifer Fujimoto, 335th FS deployed director of operations. "During this exercise, we are collaborating with Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne, Fort Bragg, N.C. In order to effectively and efficiently use our resources, we have to be able to integrate with the Army, Navy or Marine Corps."

Participating in Green Flag East brings players together to validate or develop the tactics, techniques and procedures used during the fight, she added.

Usually, the Airmen and soldiers who participate in Green Flag together end up deploying together.

"It's important to the Air Force and all services because it is a learning process," said Fujimoto. "We are training the way we fight."

In addition to building cohesiveness, another objective of the training is enhancing integration with maneuvering ground troops.

Fujimoto said the sorties flown here provide aircrews a first look at how they will operate and interact with a brigade-sized Army unit and Air Force air liaison officers and joint terminal attack controllers.

It is a complex exercise because of the variety of missions assigned. The ability to gain experience is what helps out the aircrew because they never know what their first real combat mission is going to be, she added.

"Green Flag definitely helps during our deployments," said Senior Airman Lawrence McGregor, 335th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief. "Even though it's fast paced down range, we have a feel for things that could possibly happen so we are more prepared to carry out the mission."

The exercising and training received at Green Flag helps solidify the joint procedures that will be required during our next allied expeditionary force rotation, Fujimoto added.

In 2011, more than 1,125 Airmen and more than 32,000 soldiers came to Barksdale to participate in Green Flag East.

Article by Senior Airman Kristen High, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs