Intelligence flight takes trip to 'petting zoo'
By Senior Airman Heather Hayward, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 28, 2013
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- When most units arrive to participate in Red Flag 13-2, they usually begin by setting up their temporary workstations and finding appropriate lodging in preparation to participate in a unique training exercise.
However, Airmen from the 366th Operations Support Squadron decided to jump right into training and visit the Threat Training Facility.
The facility allows Airmen the unusual freedom to handle and even sit inside equipment which has led to it being nicknamed, "The Petting Zoo."
"The ability to have a hands-on experience provides a better training environment, because the Airmen are able to see the equipment they work with in person," said Capt. Dean Smith, 366th OSS intelligence flight commander. "It's easy to talk about a subject or a threat and maybe even show pictures, but when we can put our hands on it and see it up close, it gives us a better appreciation for the training we have had."
The facility determines the capabilities and shortcomings of enemy weapon systems, with the primary focus on enemy aircraft, anti-aircraft systems and tanks.
"We learn about a lot of these different systems at work but we don't actually get to go see them and see how big they are and what they look like compared to a jet or flying at someone," said Senior Airman Anthony Werner, 366th OSS operations intelligence journeyman. "Being able to be hands-on gives me a better idea of how things operate."
The Airmen of the intelligence flight are responsible for identifying and providing threat data as well as targets.
"I would gauge Red Flag as a very integral and critical portion to our unit's training and our ability to effectively overcome different challenges," Smith said. "I think it's very beneficial for our coalition partners to participate. It gives them a good chance to see how we as the United States execute tactics in our operations."