606th ACS integrates into Red Flag 16-1

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jake Carter
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
When pilots fly over the massive Nevada Test and Training Range for Red Flag exercises; they always have to be in contact with one another to make key decisions which can decide who the day's victor and loser will be.

Units like the 606th Air Control Squadron from Spangdalem Air Base, Germany, play a vital role for the joint and coalition pilots communicating with each other through the air, space and cyberspace medium as the battle managers of the sky.

"The 606th ACS, call sign Galley, provides tactical command and control," Lt. Col. Aaron Gibney, 606th ACS commander said. "In other words, we use our sensors and radios to find, communicate and integrate." Tactical command and control systems (CRC, AWACS, and JSTARS) integrate together to "help solve problems, bring order, and speed decisions. We accomplish this by allocating airspace, finding targets, communicating the air picture, directing shooters, and integrating capabilities across all domains."

The 606th ACS , is a self-contained mobile combat unit with Airmen covering more than 21 specialties that maintain over $170M worth of Control and Reporting System equipment that includes radios, sensors and tactical vehicles.

Coming to Nellis AFB, the 606th ACS hopes they can control the skies over the NTTR during Red Flag 16-1.

With Red Flag recently integrating all three domains into one exercise, most of the 606th Airmen are first time participants.

"Red Flag 16-1 is comprised of joint and coalition players and one of our main objectives during this exercise is to obtain a better understanding of how to integrate with our partners, especially at the highest tactical level," Gibney said.

For the 606th operators, Gibney wanted to expose them to Red Flag to prepare them for situations and scenarios on a larger scale.

"The 606th Air Control Squadron is at Red Flag to provide world class tactical command and control in support of all Red Flag participants. Red Flag offers the unique opportunity to expose our operators to situations and scenarios on a larger scale than can be replicated from our home station," Gibney said. "We have over 30 operators across six crew positions to include two intelligence Airmen. The majority of our operators are attending Red Flag for their very first time."

While participating in Red Flag, they will be using the same command and control system that they would use if they were to deploy.

"(This exercise) is very similar to real world operations and expectations for our operators," Maj. Jason Zemler, 606th ACS director of operations said. "Our operators have the unique opportunity at Red Flag to execute on a system that is the same C2 system they will deploy or execute on during our next deployment."

When units come to participate in a Red Flag exercise, they can expect to walk away with the best training possible that will ready them for a deployment when the time arises.

"While here, Galley operators experience many different pressures that they are not usually exposed to," Zemler said. "The stressors associated with detailed mission planning and execution based on realistic threat systems and scenarios provides a learning opportunity that our operators cannot typically receive in any other environment. When you apply those stressors with time and weapons constraints, and repetition over a 3-week period, both the stress and learning is phenomenal."