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RED FLAG-Alaska 13-3 takes off
U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113, Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., taxi on the runway during RED FLAG-Alaska 13-3 Aug. 9, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The F/A-18 is used primarily as a fighter escort and for fleet air defense. In its attack mode, it is used for force projection, interdiction, and close and deep air support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos/Released)
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Neutral forces provide training, eliminate distractions

Posted 8/16/2013   Updated 8/16/2013 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Zachary Perras
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/16/2013 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- In the early days of aerial combat, dogfights took place between two opposing forces. In the same way, RED FLAG-Alaska participants are organized into "red" aggressor forces and "blue" coalition forces - essentially the "good guy" and "bad guy" players of the exercise.

In the middle of these forces rests the "white" forces, which represent the neutral controlling agency. Because the red and blue forces meet in a simulated hostile, non-cooperative training environment, the job of controlling the mock war and ensuring safety falls in the hands of the white forces.

Maj. Sam Stitt, 353rd Combat Training Squadron operations division chief, said the white forces develop scenarios for RF-A based on the learning objectives of participating blue forces.

"Our job is to coordinate the playing field for the forces and then let them play," Stitt explained. "We provide the arena so they can focus on the overall development of tactics, techniques and procedures."

The 353rd CTS leads the white forces in orchestrating the exercise and acts as a liaison between coalition partners and Eielson. From bed-down of aircraft to maintaining successful communications, the white forces work to eliminate potential mishaps.

"This is the most difficult training environment that a young aviator can experience," said Maj. James Mixon, 353rd CTS assistant director of operations. "It's very important for us to be able to educate our joint and allied partners and for us all to learn together."

With 22 different units to keep track of, the long-term goal of white forces is to eliminate distractions, Mixon added. This way, participants can learn from successes and mistakes in a realistic environment, without any real threat.

"War has no plan, and it's our job to make it as seamless and realistic as possible for participants while they're flying," Stitt said. "We want to make each [RED FLAG] better than the last so we know people get out there and learn from the experience."

Although it can sometimes be impossible to remove all distractions, at the end of the day, the white forces look for success in the fact that each take-off is equivalent to the same number of landings.

"It's a great opportunity to work with different countries and different services," Stitt said. "If they can come here and go out and execute successfully, then it's a good day."

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