News>T-Bolts return from Red Flag better prepared for combat
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Justin Brant, 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief waits for further instruction from the aircrew, Feb. 1, 2013, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. A strong team bond between air and ground crew is vital to mission success. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Heather Hayward)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Justin Brant, 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief performs pre-flight preparation on an F-15E Strike Eagle Feb. 1, 2013, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. High morale, trust, working well together and strong unity are important for the T-Bolts during exercises . (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Heather Hayward)
by Senior Airman Heather Hayward
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/13/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- For many units, the conclusion of Red Flag 13-2 meant returning to their home base and putting the skills they learned to use.
The same can be said for the 389th Fighter Squadron, which returned home better prepared for war and strengthened team bonds.
"From my perspective, Red Flag is the best training opportunity the world has to offer," said Lt. Col. Joel Meyers, 389th FS commander. "As commander, I'm responsible for the health of our squadron and for our combat capability and this exercise enabled us to better prepare our guys for combat."
The pilots were able to experience things they may not get the opportunity to experience at their home bases, such as several people talking quickly over radios with unfamiliar accents.
"I think Red Flag is important because it shows us how to work in a joint world," said 1st Lt. Alex Arbuckle, 389th FS mobility officer. "The biggest thing I have taken away is seeing how to integrate with not only other squadrons but other services and countries.
Going to Red Flag and working with other countries was a first for many people.
"We have learned integration and even had other pilots give a briefing to us about the capabilities of their airplanes," Arbuckle said. "It demonstrates integration of the total Air Force mission."
Working closely with other countries, pilots are able to learn the capabilities of the aircraft and people they could possibly work with again in the future.
"The world in which we fight today is built on coalition partnerships where we are flying alongside other countries," Meyers said. "If we want to train the way we plan to fight in combat, continuing to integrate the international fighting efforts is important and Red Flag is a perfect place to do that."
A strong bond within the team and between the aircrew and crew chiefs is vital to mission success.
"We work in an environment where we literally depend on each other for our lives," Arbuckle said. "The maintainers put in excruciating hours often in brutal weather to provide us with war-ready Strike Eagles, and that's something we can't forget."
The pride that comes with being a T-Bolt, even from the families, is one that can't be matched.
"I'm extremely proud to be a T-Bolt," Arbuckle said. "This is my first operational squadron, and I really can't imagine that there's a better place to grow up as an officer and a pilot."
Because of high morale and a strong unity as a team, the T-Bolts are able to work well together and trust each other with their lives.
"The morale is high, and I'm proud of the way everyone works together," Meyers said. "There is this synergy where we're able to bring about effective mission accomplishment."