NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --
As flying units from around the globe converged at Nellis Air Force Base for RED FLAG 23-1, the 505th Command and Control Wing welcomed the 355th Wing’s Command and Control Force Element, or C2FE, from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, to execute as the first Lead Wing C2FE in a Tier 1 Large Force Exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
The primary training objectives for the C2FE were to assess and replenish real-time weapons expenditures, dynamic force packaging, mobile Wing Operations Center deployment, and dislocated mission planning to prepare the 355th WG for their certification later this year.
“The mission of the 57th Wing is to train the next generation of warfighters for the high-end fight. RED FLAG provides advanced, realistic, multi-domain training to the force…that training must necessarily include and integrate C2, ACE, and mission command. RED FLAG 23-1 did exactly that,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Goodman, 57th WG commander, Nellis AFB, Nevada.
The 505th Combat Training Squadron, 705th Training Squadron, and the 926th Operations Group, Detachment 1 personnel established an Air Component Replication Cell at Hurlburt Field, Florida, to provide an operational-level C2 interface and operational planning products for the live fly exercise. The re-introduction of operational-level headquarters considerations into RED FLAG enabled realistic alignment of tactical operations into a larger operational scheme of maneuver for the USAF’s premier tactically focused exercise.
Our adversaries will not provide us the luxury of time to get ready before the next fight. RED FLAG has provided a critical training environment for our Airman and Guardians for decades. This is just its next evolution. Agile Combat Employment isn’t a contingency plan. This is how we’ll operate from day one. And the C2FE is key ACE. This is about mission command and distributed control. This is how we prepare our warfighters because this is how we’ll fight.”
Col. Frederick “Trey” Coleman, 505th CCW commander
“The air component replication cell is a key enabler to provide a realistic training environment for designated wings to operate within an operational command and control framework,” said Maj. Benjamin Griffith, 705th TRS Lead Wing Training director. “It is extremely important to ensure that we prepare wings for the expectations of the air component and how to effectively communicate within the larger campaign theater.”
The 805th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis provided tents outside their Shadow Operations Center – Nellis, ShOC-N, facility for the C2FE to operate out of for the first week of the exercise. The main goals were to develop a battle rhythm, distribute mission-type orders, establish their primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency communication plan, develop a strategy to execute proactive ACE and establish Continuity of Operations, or COOP, procedures.
The 355th C2FE employed a COOP plan by deploying into a multiple-vehicle mobile WOC that executed from the Nellis Test and Training Range. The focus of the second week was to evaluate the 355th’s signature and munitions management while the mobile WOC could maintain effective C2 of dislocated forces.
To further increase the realism of ACE, the 354th Fighter Squadron and the 94th Fighter Squadron conducted “dislocated” mission planning cell operations during the third and final week, which stressed the ability to communicate amongst the mission package in a simulated contested and degraded environment.
“The threat environment has changed. We no longer have the luxury of training from “fence-in to fence-out.” Everything that we do: arrival in theater, force generation, transit, marshal, and push will all be contested. If we don’t start training and exercising under this mindset, then we’ll lose the war well before a fighter sees a bandit on his radar,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Lee, 705th Training Squadron director of operations. “Incorporation of wing-level C2 into the RED FLAG paradigm ensures we are building warfighters for conflict against a peer adversary.”
The 505th CCW’s exercise support was part of a larger effort to standardize wing-level C2FE procedures as part of the full-spectrum training program, which also includes the Lead Wing Command and Control Course, or LWC2C, and on-site exercise observation and mentorship.
“The wing-level training provided by the 705th TRS is the only training of its kind getting after C2 fundamentals,” said Lt. Col. Marcus Bryan, 705th TRS commander. “Our main focus is to observe the dynamic ACE environment and implement changes in procedures into our academic portfolio in order to provide the most current landscape for our students.”
The 705th TRS provides training to all five of Air Combat Command’s Lead Wings to prepare and shape operational C2 interaction to prepare for Initial Operating Capability certification during their Air Force Generation model cycle.
“The lessons learned from this exercise will feed into the overall ACE tactics, techniques and procedures production as well as influence the C2 continuum of learning to bring cutting-edge theories and best practices to the greater Lead Wing audiences,” said Griffith. “This will also expand future Lead Wing LFE integration to include the physical movement of forces and integration of an operational game plan into tactical operations to enhance knowledge of air component operations in a simulated environment."
The 705th TRS serves as the focal point for advanced Air Operations Center and Air Force forces education and C2 process improvement and trains ACC’s Lead Wing ACE concepts. The squadron educates and trains AOC and AFFOR staff members of Combatant and Numbered Air Force commanders, joint, and allied partners.
“Our adversaries will not provide us the luxury of time to get ready before the next fight,” said Col. Frederick “Trey” Coleman, 505th CCW commander. “RED FLAG has provided a critical training environment for our Airman and Guardians for decades. This is just its next evolution. Agile Combat Employment isn’t a contingency plan. This is how we’ll operate from day one. And the C2FE is key ACE. This is about mission command and distributed control. This is how we prepare our warfighters because this is how we’ll fight.”