More than 1,500 active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve Command airmen and 84 USAF aircraft are participating in Red Flag-Alaska 06-2, which includes Army and Navy forces. Col. John Dobbins, the Air Expeditionary Wing commander for the exercise, said that the air-to-air threat is going to be “significantly higher” as will be the simulated surface-to-air threat than what airmen have been experiencing in Southwest Asia operations. The presence of the 64th Aggressor Squadron from Nellis AFB, Nev., provides the “volume and quality of professional red air we’d like to see,” said Capt. Ron Strobach, Red Flag-Alaska project officer. Aircrews will get at least 10 sorties in a realistic simulated combat environment on the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex, with more than 29 air defense systems. Daily operations will include close air support sorties for several thousand soldiers out of Ft. Richardson, Alaska.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.