US Space warriors lend support to Red Flag exercise

Soldiers from U.S. Space and Missile Defense Command’s 1st Space Brigade recently participated in Exercise Red Flag 21-1, the U.S. military’s first Red Flag exercise of the year conducted by the U.S. Air Force’s 414th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Jan. 25 through Feb. 12.

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US Space warriors lend support to Red Flag exercise

An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 391st Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho., rests on the flightline before a night training mission during Red Flag 14-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 30, 2014. The exercise is conducted on the 15,000-square-mile Nevada Test and Training Range, north of Las Vegas  (Picture source: US Air force)

The Soldiers supported USAF pilots as non-kinetic effects duty officers (NKE-DOS) by providing planning and integration of non-kinetic effects into the pilots’ three-week, live-fly operations to increase realism in their flight scenarios.

Captain Gideon Bernthal, a space operations officer with Army Space Support Team (ARSST) 1 of 2nd Space Company, 1st Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade who participated in Red Flag, said exercises like this provide NKO-DOS’s the ability to train and act in that role to train and work closely with Air Force NKO-DOS.

“This training also provides FA40s (space operations officers) with a baseline knowledge of the training and experience a NKO-DO has,” Bernthal said. “This knowledge builds on and expands the expertise that an FA40 is able to provide the FA40 community.”

United States Air Force Capt. Kaylee Taylor, chief of Non-Kinetic Integration at the 414th CTC, said the integration of non-kinetic effects in the mission planning cycle has a direct positive impact to the lethality and survivability of the air package, and, ultimately, the success of any mission planned against a capable adversary.

“For most participants, this is their very first time participating in Red Flag,” said Taylor. “For the space and cyber non-kinetic functional team leads, it may be their first time doing mission planning. For the pilots, it may be their first time seeing non-kinetics, space or cyber integrated into the air fight. We introduce it to them so they can prepare to compete and win in all-domain combat operations.”

For Staff Sgt. Ron Gilbert of ARSST 1 it was his first time supporting a Red Flag exercise.

“Despite having no experience working with Air Force air platforms and a positive COVID test in the ranks the first day of the exercise that sent everyone into a 10-day quarantine,” Gilbert said. “the exercise was an educational experience and worth the time and effort to dedicate future FA40s toward.”

This marks the second time that 1st Space Brigade has sent space Soldiers to Red Flag - a two-week advanced aerial combat training exercise held several times a year by the Air Force, which aims to provide aircrews from the U.S. and allied countries the experience of multiple, intensive air combat sorties in a training area with more than 12,000 square miles of airspace.