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NTTR: Training our way to victory

Aircraft flies over range.

An F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet assigned to the 17th Weapons Squadron flies over the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), Nevada, May 15, 2019. The NTTR supports the Department of Defense’s advanced composite force training, tactics development, and electronic combat testing as well as DoD and Department of Energy testing, research and development. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bryan Guthrie)

Nevada Test and Training Range crest on a wall.

A crest of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) is displayed in a hallway at the NTTR headquarters building at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Sept. 23, 2020. The NTTR provides warfighters a flexible, realistic and multi-dimensional battlespace to conduct testing tactics development, and advanced training in support of U.S. national interests. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dwane R. Young)

Airman stands in the middle of a range.

Tech. Sgt. Dennis Back, tactical air control NCO in charge at the 24th Tactical Air Support Squadron looks out at the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Oct. 24, 2019. The NTTR is the largest contiguous air and ground space available for peacetime military operations in the free world. The range occupies 2.9 million acres of land, 5,000 square miles of airspace which is restricted from civilian air traffic over-flight and another 7,000 square miles of military operating area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dwane R. Young)

A group poses for a photo in front of a building.

Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) project managers pose for a photo outside of the NTTR headquarters building at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Sept. 22, 2020. Project Managers are responsible for execution oversight of exercises supported by the NTTR. They oversee exercise support and airspace scheduling for real-time operations of the range monitoring facility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dwane R. Young)


Editor's Note: This is the first installment in a three-part series highlighting the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The familiar cry of “fight’s on” echoes over the radio and the battle ensues. Blue Forces take to the sky with their key objectives and plans B, C, and D on hand, because in battle, nothing ever goes as planned. Red Forces follow, equally skilled and trained with nothing but bad intentions for Blue Forces.

Their mission: attack on all platforms, trying to steal, sabotage and destroy the mission. Their location; the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) home to the U.S. Air Force’s premier exercises and training operations.

This is an example of a typical exercise that takes place at the NTTR and encapsulates the impact they have on military operations.

Red Flag, an air-to-air combat exercise for pilots, and Green Flag, a ground combat training exercise, are two of the largest training operations in the Department of Defense. The NTTR enables training opportunities like these, while also providing a practice home to the U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration team and daily flying operations for squadrons based at Nellis.

“Our ability to provide the full-spectrum of battle to exercise participants and other users makes the NTTR one of the most ideal locations to develop and grow military pilots,” said Larry “Slider” Prince, chief of the projects branch at the NTTR. “These training operations are not only vital to those who participate in them, but necessary for the overall success of the Air Force’s warfighting mission.”

The NTTR provides a full and detailed picture of who the enemy is and what they present; this challenges U.S. and coalition forces to figure out real-time problems, while honing warfighting techniques.

As the free world’s largest contiguous air and ground space available for peacetime military operations, the NTTR provides the U.S. and its allies with critical training and testing opportunities that is unmatched throughout the DoD, echoed Prince.

“You learn more being shot down once over the NTTR during an exercise, than you learn from 10 successful missions,” said Prince. “The lessons you learn here keep you from spilling blood in combat and that’s something that can’t be quantified.”

Every day military leaders reach out to the NTTR with their requirements for training, testing or evaluation. Then, the NTTR goes about providing the manning and infrastructure to support those needs.

“Last year we had 33,000 range users,” said Master Sgt. Jeremy Cunningham, operations support superintendent at the NTTR. “Whether we support large force exercises involving NATO nations, to singular operations to improve combat readiness, the range has the flexibility to accommodate most varieties of training.”

Those requests equate to approximately 40,000 sorties yearly.

“The range prepares people who are about to go into harm’s way,” said Roger Christensen, chief of the NTTR environmental office. “I truly believe the more we train, the harder we train and the more realistic that training is, results in less sacrifice, and less lives lost in battle. I never want us to lose sight of that, and that’s why the NTTR is so vital to the overall mission.