Robins provides C2 expertise for Virtual Flag: Coalition

  • Published
  • By Kisha Foster Johnson
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office

Airmen with the 728th Battle Management Control Squadron, 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron and 461st Operations Support Squadron at Robins traveled to Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, to participate in a joint Virtual Flag: Coalition 24 exercise Oct. 22 – Nov. 3, 2023, at the Distributed Mission Operations Center.

Approximately 493 coalition and joint warfighters accomplished 5,356 joint training events for 43 units using seven networks and 23 different systems connected at 22 distributed sites worldwide through the DMOC’s information system networks. VF:C integrated forces from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada who all operated simultaneously across multiple time zones worldwide.

According to Maj. Nathaniel Cromer, 728th BMCS Director of Staff, operational and tactical warfighters engaged in a virtual theater-level joint combat environment centered around the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility during the exercise. The exercise was a first for the newly activated 728th.

“This opportunity allowed our Airmen to train with simulated real-world threats in real-time, and it was the first time the 728th BMCS participated in an Air Force-level exercise," said Cromer.

DMOC is designed to build and maintain joint and coalition partnerships between the U.S. and its allies by focusing on planning, executing, and debriefing a multitude of mission sets in air, space, surface, and cyber domains. 

Cromer said “All units operated within a simultaneously live, virtual, and constructive environment, which allows warfighters to prepare to wage war, and then practice doing so in a realistic simulation.

“The effective techniques learned are designed to deter and combat national adversaries,” he continued. “Participants also receive real-time feedback to refine their strategies effectively.”

The 728th BMCS activated in February 2023 is one of four new missions at Robins. It will provide command and control of aircraft in U.S. Central Command by performing 24/7 real-time radar surveillance along with airspace deconfliction, air-refueling positioning and tactical reconnaissance.

The VF:C challenged participants to review, execute and debrief tactics, techniques and procedures for command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, interdiction, personnel recovery, integrated air and missile defense, close air support, air operations in support of maritime warfare and space operations.

The 12th ACCS supported VF:C by leading the Dynamic Targeting Cell as well as providing a crew to simulate a national Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance asset.  In the DTC, members identified potential targets and coordinated within the Air Operations Center to generate a target tasking for the Command and Control leads in the Area of Operations to prosecute.

As an ISR crew, the 12th ACCS identified tracks of interest and communicated them using the digital Link 16 network allowing the AOC to direct other intelligence agencies to characterize this vital data allowing decision makers within the AOC to act. 

“The INDOPACOM AOR provides the combined force some unique problem sets associated with tyranny of distance, including geographic separation, logistics, time, distance, and communications,” said Maj. Brian Grant, 12th ACCS Chief of Staff.  “The DMOC is a great training venue for our Airmen to keep their Battle Management core competencies sharp since the divestment of the E-8C, while also being able to provide vital Air Battle Management expertise from years of experience garnered from multiple large force exercises and deployments.”

 Additionally, the 12th ACCS was able to support the 728th BMCS with their mission planning throughout VF:C while also leveraging their command and control expertise in working with Marines and Coalition partners who were in charge of different geographic areas of the region.

Cromer said a Battle Coordination Center is under construction for the new Robins mission.

“Virtual Flag allowed us to go out to a fixed facility and practice command and control functions from a facility that’s simulated but distributed across a large area of operations. That’s what we are designing and will be executing here one day as the Robins Tactical Operations Center-Fixed BCC,” he said. “The lessons learned will definitely be incorporated here at Robins,” said Cromer. “We are very excited for our maturing crew and its ongoing training and what that means for the development of the mission.”