Misawa Airmen brave arctic weather, master RED FLAG-Alaska 19-1
By Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks, 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 01, 2018
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- A sea of green, tan, cameo and shades of gray flooded Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, for the ultimate meeting of the minds during RED FLAG-Alaska 19-1, Oct. 4 to 19.
U.S. service members and their international counterparts donned fleeces, gloves and parkas to keep warm from Alaska’s chilling climate, seldom experienced by the nation’s “lower 48.”
With 574 sorties and 1,072 hours flown by Oct. 16, RF-A 19-1 was one of the Air Force's most strategically impactful exercises.
“This is the largest coalition exercise our younger Airmen will have the opportunity to participant in,” explained Col. Jason J. Cockrum, the RF-A 19-1 deployed forces commander. “After this two-week training, they will find local operations at their home duty station to seem fairly easy in comparison.”
While this training aided in Airmen performing their job more proficiently in the future, it displayed the resilient nature of Wild Weasel Airmen in arctic elements.
“Despite the cool temperatures, our crew chiefs were out there making the mission top priority,” explained Cockrum. “Turning wrenches and getting our aircraft ready to fly did not slowed down, even on the coldest days. You could sense the connection Airmen have to this mission because their pride was demonstrated through their work execution.”
The 35th FW Airmen's will to overcome not only contributed to this exercise's success but also prepared them and the wing for future harsh weather conditions and unknown territories.
“No conflict will happen exactly where or when we want it to,” explained Capt. Daniel Thompson, the 353rd Combat Training Squadron RF-A 19-1 team chief. “Alaska's weather provides ice, fog, freezing rain, rapidly diminishing daylight and even snow. The fog and friction of war will always demand flexibility and organizational resiliency.”
While the fruits of their labor delivered combat air power, reaching their daily objectives quenched their thirst for victory.
“My favorite part has been seeing all the participants reach their goals,” expressed Thompson. “To see months of hard work and planning turn into aircrews actually gearing up and taking to the skies is such an accomplishment for everyone involved.”
The sense of fulfillment insuccessfully accomplishment this joint exercise and training was a shared feeling.
“I am extremely proud to see 35th Fighter Wing Airmen lead this exercise,” added Cockrum. “We have Wild Weasels directing about 1,300 personnel. It is an honor to see Airman carry out this mission. As we walk away from this experience, we will be at the height of our readiness.”