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510th FS & FGS implement Certify Phase of AFFORGEN model during Red Flag 24-1

  • Published
  • By By Staff Sgt. Heather Ley
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. – The U.S. Air Force has been changing the way it presents and generates forces for the first time in 20 years. It’s begun transitioning from the Expeditionary Air Force model of force presentation to the Air Force Force Generation (AFFORGEN) model in how it deploys Airmen.

AFFORGEN establishes a 24-month rotational cycle broken into four, six-month phases: Prepare, Certify, Available, and Reset. Airmen and units build readiness through the Prepare and Certify phases through Large Force Exercises (LFE), joint exercises, full spectrum training or multi-unit tactics. Airmen deploy during the Available phase and reintegrate and reconstitute during the Reset phase. 

The 510th Fighter and Fighter Generation Squadrons executed training missions in the Certify Phase of the AFFORGEN model during Red Flag 24-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Jan. 15 - 26 as part of an LFE. During the two-week exercise, Airmen from the 510th focused their training to better prepare themselves for distributed, high-end combat operations while integrating with more than 30 joint and combined forces. 

“The pilots from the 510th received large force engagement training during Red Flag 24-1,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Nicholas Smidt, 510th FS Red Flag project officer and pilot. “They participated in the exercise to prepare for upcoming deployments by integrating with coalition partners and other units across the joint force while also getting the opportunity to drop live weapons on the Nellis Test and Training Range.”

Red Flag was established in 1975 to address the issue the U.S. Air Force discovered during the Vietnam War. Studies showed the first ten combat missions were the most dangerous for aircrews and so the Air Force came up with a better way to prepare for combat.

Over the years, Red Flag has adapted and evolved to provide Airmen realistic threat systems and opposing enemy forces that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. Nellis and the Nevada Test and Training Range enable combat air forces to fly, fight and win together.

Red Flag 24-1 aligned with the 2022 National Defense Strategy by focusing on deterring aggression, building a resilient joint force and prioritizing the challenge posed by China in the Indo-Pacific region and the Russia challenge in Europe.

“It’s important to adapt and change how we train and prepare Airmen for the future of war fighting because the threat we are preparing for today looks much different than it did 10 to 20 years ago,” said Smidt.

The 414th Combat Training Squadron hosts Red Flag with a mission to maximize the combat readiness, capability and survivability of participating units by providing realistic, multi-domain training in a combined air, ground, space and electronic threat environment.

“Training prioritizes first timer’s combat missions, mission commander upgrades, integration and flag unique experiences that contribute most to readiness and partnering,” said Col. Eric Winterbottom, 414th CTS commander in a release. He added, “The type of training Airmen receive during Red Flag focuses on independent functionality to make future missions more resilient and survivable.”

Approximately 100 aircraft departed the base each day. Some aircraft, including F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 510th FS, took off at night to simulate nighttime combat operations. 

Under the AFFORGEN model, exercises like Red Flag allow units to discover and articulate their finite capacity and sustainable force offering to the Joint Force, while preparing Airmen for long-term competition with pacing challengers to maintain dominance in a changing operational environment.

“Training with a multitude of different units across the combined and joint force is vital to the future success of the coalition forces,” said Smidt. “It’s important to know how everyone communicates with each other and the various capabilities everyone brings to the fight. As we continue to advance our abilities, we need to make sure we are capitalizing on everyone’s strengths and understanding where our weaknesses are, so we adjust where it’s necessary.