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40 years of Red Flag ends on high note

A C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., flies to the Nevada Test and Training Range during Red Flag 15-4, Aug. 25, 2015. With a range of over 2,500 miles, the C-17 is capable of carrying 102 troops or paratroopers or 170,900 pounds of cargo at a service ceiling of 45,000 feet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler)

A C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., flies to the Nevada Test and Training Range during Red Flag 15-4, Aug. 25, 2015. With a range of over 2,500 miles, the C-17 is capable of carrying 102 troops or paratroopers or 170,900 pounds of cargo at a service ceiling of 45,000 feet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot assigned to the 311th Fighter Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base N.M., salutes a crew chief before taking off as part on an exercise during Red Flag 15-4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 27, 2015. Red Flag involves a series of intense air-to-air combat exercises designed to prepare U.S. and allied forces for future real world conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jake Carter)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot assigned to the 311th Fighter Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base N.M., salutes a crew chief before taking off as part on an exercise during Red Flag 15-4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 27, 2015. Red Flag involves a series of intense air-to-air combat exercises designed to prepare U.S. and allied forces for future real world conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jake Carter)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- From its inception in 1975, Red Flag exercises have tested military members' combat capabilities in air, space and cyberspace. Red flag 15-4, which concluded here Aug.28, will close out this year's 40th anniversary of Red Flag.

Col. Jeffrey Weed, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander, expressed his enthusiasm for the cohesion created between foreign allies and the U.S.

"I'm really impressed with the integration of foreign countries (for Red Flag 15-4)," Weed said. "There is tremendous integration on their part when they come," Weed said. "Also, this is the second time we've had Virtual Flag as part of Red Flag as well."

Weed was also impressed with what U.S. forces were able to accomplish together during the exercise.

"Working with foreign countries has been a collective partnership," Weed said. "There has also been great training with our sister service Marine and Navy members. We had ground forces stay out in the field for the entire exercise and have had the broadest jamming capabilities from the Navy ever."

Joel Reed, a graphics artist assigned to the 414th CTS, has noticed the change in Red Flag and integration since the very beginning of Red Flag in 1975 when he was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base as a uniformed Airman, and from 1992 when he became a civilian employee at the 414th CTS.

"The scope of the training for integrating has exploded," Reed said. "The training use to be fighter-oriented but now it encompasses all of the Air Force domains. The feedback from past participants has been outstanding and one pilot who went on a deployment said he would have been lost without the Red Flag training but with it, it had made integrating with other countries a breeze."

With Red Flag training Airmen and other individuals in the air, space and cyberspace domain, every Red Flag exercise brings in players that are new to the exercise.

"Some of the differences from Red Flag are the different set of partners that we have come out each time," Weed said. "For every Red Flag, we usually have a quarter or a third amount of people who are new players and there might have been even more than that (for Red Flag 15-4)."

During Red Flag exercises, it is common to see foreign counterparts participating in the exercise, but with the 2016 Red Flags, countries who haven't been to Red Flag in quite some time will make an appearance.

"For next year, Red Flag will be similar to this year with four exercises occurring," Weed said. "For the second and fourth Red Flag, we will be including foreign players which include the United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, and Spain."

With integrating being a large part of Red Flag exercises, Weed noticed that learning and teamwork is what can make a Red Flag exercise successful.

"Learning is one of the biggest things you notice when Red Flag is over," Weed said. "With the U.S. and foreign countries, the biggest thing is learning or teamwork."

With Weed retiring in the near future, he has complete confidence in his successor that he will be able to keep the mission going effectively.

"(Red Flag 15-4) will be my last Red Flag," Weed said. "A good friend of mine, Col. Greg Marzolf, will be the new commander by way of Colorado State University (Detachment 90, Air Force ROTC training program commander), but this will be his fourth tour at Nellis and I believe he will do great."

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