ACO cyber Airmen enable realistic Red Flag training

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Tammie Moore
  • National Air and Space Intelligence Center Public Affairs
Airmen from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center traveled to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to kick Red Flag 16-3 up a notch.

Members of the NASIC Weapons and Tactics Team, which is part of the center’s Operational Requirements Squadron, participated in the combat training exercise from July 11-29.

Traditionally, NASIC has provided integrated, non-kinetic inputs to Red Flag; but this marked the first time advanced targets were available for use, taking cyber participation to the next level.

“This level of integration is unprecedented because NASIC is being integrated into the non-kinetic side due to our training environment and the target sets within that environment,” said 1st Lt. Jeffery Banner, ACO weapons and tactics chief. “It is also different because of the advanced integration being done by non-kinetic players in order to plan missions against those threat areas NASIC is responsible for..”

The addition of non-kinetic effects into the exercise provided space and cyber units the opportunity to learn how to incorporate their various capabilities into the fight. According to participants, it also helped develop trust that cyber effects will be delivered on time within the kinetic community.

“In order to win in a future conflict, we have to fight as a full, joint and potentially combined force,” Banner said. “This includes integrating space and cyber into the kinetic fight. With our adversaries producing increasingly more capable and deadly threat systems, integrating space and cyber into air operations is and will continue to be absolutely critical.”

During the Red Flag exercise to realistically train against advanced threats, the teams must harmonize non-kinetic and kinetic operations.

“To do this cyber planners sat down with aircrew from multiple platforms such as the F-16, F-22, B-52, E/A-18 and HH-60 to learn how those aircraft operate and how cyber can better enable those aircrew to perform their mission,” Banner said. “This integration has truly enabled cyber to be a force multiplier, not just a ‘nice to have’ during various air operations like defensive counter air, offensive counter air, dynamic targeting, or personnel recovery.”

The training opportunity provided a chance for the cyber experts and pilots gain a vital understanding of how the other operates.

“(I’ve) never seen this level of integration with cyber and F-16s,” said Lt. Col. Craig Andrle, 79th Fighter Squadron commander, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. “The fact that cyber players were sitting in the F-16 planning room learning about air-to-air operations and maneuvers is awesome!"

Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander, Nellis Air Force Base, also took note of the unique capability the Weapons and Tactics Team brought to Red Flag 16-3.

“This was an incredible opportunity to collaborate with our NASIC partners," Leavitt said. "Integrating kinetic and non-kinetic effects across domains greatly increases our effectiveness as a Joint Force. This type of multi-domain integration is at the heart of the 57th Wing mission and essential in preparing our Air Force to dominate the high-end fight.”