From Samurai to an Aggressor RED FLAG-Alaska 23-1

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman David Phaff
  • 354th Fighter Wing / Public Affairs

The 14th Fighter Squadron from Misawa Air Base, Japan, has a proud heritage dating back to World War II. They function primarily in a support role, ready to attack to defend against any threat in the Pacific theater.

One of these pilots will be shifting from his support role to becoming an Aggressor at the 18th Aggressor Squadron. The 18th AGRS mission is to prepare combat Air Force, joint, and allied aircrews through challenging, realistic threat replication, training, test support, academics, and feedback.

“The 18th AGRS's mission is to "know, teach, replicate. Essentially, we work very closely with the intelligence community to know and understand our potential adversaries and their tactics in as much detail as possible,” said Major Matthew Defoore, 18th Aggressor Squadron assistant director of operations. “Our subject matter expert pilots take that knowledge and teach units throughout the Air Force and then replicate those threats airborne through exercises such as RED FLAG-Alaska. The idea is to enhance blue air lethality by giving them the ability to see, fight, and defeat adversary tactics before they are tasked to do that mission real-world.”

RF-A 23-1 helps prepare pilots for any future aeriel combat by simulating real-world scenarios that pilots may encounter in possible future conflicts.

“RED FLAG-Alaska is intended to provide a realistic combat training environment, so if we ever have to go to combat, then we have been through the process at least a few times,” said U.S. Air Force Captain Aaron Doyle, 14th Fighter Squadron wing flight safety officer. “As far as mission planning and communicating with commanders and understanding intent, and coordinating with different assets.”

During his time here at RF-A 23-1, Doyle has gotten the opportunity to fly as “red air” or play the role of a simulated enemy combatant during this exercise, using enemy techniques and patterns during simulated air combat.

“The Aggressors are professional red air or enemy combatants,” said Doyle. “They give an excellent representation of what it would be like to fight a real air adversary.”

Doyle will be transferring to Eielson at the beginning of 2024, joining the 18th Aggressor Squadron and playing a role in future RED FLAG-Alaska exercises.

“I could end up either in a planning position and making sure RED FLAG-Alaska happens,” said Doyle. “ or I could be put in a position where I learn advisory tactics and replicate those as realistically as possible during the exercises.”

These types of exercises are a great way to work with allies and members from other squadrons while learning and sharing knowledge with each other to strengthen air superiority.

“Every time we get assets like this together, it's a good opportunity to see what our allies' and partners' capabilities are and make sure we are operating well together,” said Doyle. “Going through two weeks of RED FLAG-Alaska sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and when you lose, we dissect that and find out why and pass those messages forward to our team and allies.”

The 18th AGRS plays a vital role in helping pilots and Airmen prepare and be ready for any possible future conflict. Honing skills and practicing new tactics to keep the U.S. Air Force and its allies the most lethal to control the sky.