• Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Robert Hicks
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs

The 34th Combat Training Squadron kicked off Exercise Green Flag-Little Rock 23-10 Thursday as a live, joint training venue for Mobility Air Forces and international participants to rehearse a winning scheme of maneuver for future conflicts.     

“The primary objective of Green Flag-Little Rock is to provide relevant, challenging, and dynamic training in a simulated combat environment with an emphasis on joint force integration,” said Lt. Col. Therese Landin, 34th Combat Training Squadron commander. “GF-LR is a staple of the mobility community and gives Airmen, Soldiers, and international partners a direct linkage to Joint warfighting functions when preparing for future conflicts.”   

These quarterly exercises test proficiency in command and control, mission planning, contingency response elements, airlift/aerial refueling, aeromedical evacuation, isolated personnel scenarios, and air mobility support operations while supporting Joint warfighting functions.  The majority of GF-LR exercises occur in conjunction with the United States Army’s brigade level training at the Joint Readiness Training Center from Fort Johnson, Louisiana, and the 548th Combat Training Squadron’s JRTC-Support program. 

 The latest iteration began with the arrival of C-17, C-130J, A-400, and KC-46 aircraft along with the direct delivery of contingency response forces from the 521st Contingency Response Squadron and international participants from Spain and Germany.  Throughout the exercise participants will execute a Joint Forcible Entry insertion of the 2/82 Airborne, complete a bare-base airfield opening scenario, conduct realistic isolated personnel training, and rehearse mission type orders for agile combat operations.    

This week U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Commander Maj. Gen. John Klein and Command Chief Master Sgt. Courtney Freeman observed the exercise to see first-hand, the joint integration the realistic scenario provides.   

“Taking off from Pope Army Airfield and sending Army heavy-equipment out the back of an Air Force J-model at a simulated, newly established airfield is exactly the training our Mobility Forces need to be getting after with our joint and international teammates,” said Klein. “We must continue to prepare our Airmen to mobilize, deploy and fight at a rapid pace and there’s no better way to do that than to create realistic training at the speed, scope, complexity, and scale needed in a modern-day threat environment.”  

In order to do this, Air Mobility Command will bid farewell to Exercise GF-LR to make room for new flexible and scalable, flag-level exercises that will contribute to certifying mobility forces. The 43d Air Mobility Operations Group’s 34 CTS at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, in conjunction with the newly activated 49th Combat training squadron at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina were tasked to build upon GF-LR to develop training scenarios and exercise advanced warfighting capabilities to conduct operations in and through contested environments and evaluate proposed concepts for the future fight. 

To lay the foundation of lethality and enable the delivery of the Joint Force, the squadrons developed Exercise STORM FLAG. 

“We are building upon the foundation established by Green Flag-Little Rock and the 34 CTS and working with stakeholders across multiple commands to build the Storm Flag series of exercises to address the shift in our battlespace,” said Lt. Col. James Stikeleather, 49th Combat Training Squadron commander. “We have made it our personal responsibility to structure this exercise to prepare, posture, and present ready air mobility forces for employment to support national security objectives.” 

The exercise will be designed to incorporate AMC Agile Combat Employment operations and execute a winning scheme of maneuver to generate combat air power while continuing to move, maneuver, and sustain the supported force and subordinate force elements in a dynamic environment. In addition, the events will be scalable and held quarterly as a 300-level exercise and biannually as a 400-level exercise throughout the fiscal year. The first iteration is scheduled for March of 2024.   

“Our team is leaning far-forward into developing STORM FLAG as the exercise of choice to integrate into joint and coalition operations in order to fight, sustain and win across contested domains,” said Klein. “The goal of STORM FLAG is to provide combatant commanders a force that can explode into any theater and have the capability to lift, shift and maneuver to the point of attack anywhere at a moment’s notice.”