An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

GFLR 22-03 paves way for tomorrow’s fight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- The 34th Combat Training Squadron recently hosted Green Flag Little Rock 22-03, which afforded a unique opportunity to expand and strengthen our network of like-minded allies and partners, with integration across the Mobility Air Forces, the U.S. Army, and the French Air and Space Force, Jan. 9-21.

The primary objective of GFLR is to support the Joint Readiness Training Center and provide training to the maximum number of airlift crews, mission planners and ground support elements in a simulated combat environment with an emphasis on joint force integration.

“The 34th CTS is jointly accredited with the U.S. Army at the JRTC in Fort Polk, Louisiana, to conduct exercises for both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force,” said Maj. Phillip Erwin 34th CTS GFLR exercise director. “We worked really hard this year to grow outside of the MAF and bring in aircraft and units we’ve never worked with during previous GFLRs.”

This iteration included C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 317th Airlift Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, a C-17 Globemaster III from the 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard, a KC-46A Pegasus from 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB, Kansas, and B-52 Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.

Other participants included French Air and Space Force members with A400M Atlas and a CASA CN235 aircraft, as well as U.S. Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division and the 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment.

“Working with our foreign and Department of Defense partners allowed us to understand what our roles are in the fight and fuse our tactics to better integrate in future wars,” said Capt. Emory Gumapas, 39th Airlift Squadron C-130 pilot and GFLR mission planning cell chief. “We were able to accomplish a multitude of things; things we don’t normally accomplish at our home-station.”

This exercise marked the first time aircraft from the French Air and Space Force have landed at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas.

“On day one, we had to learn to understand each other’s roles and differences and we continued to fine-tune everything as the exercise progressed,” said Gumapas. “It was a learning curve, but we were able to quickly integrate with them and execute the mission, which was great.”

While GFLR provides essential tactical-level training, the experience of working with international partners allowed an opportunity to increase our cooperation, collaboration and interoperability to deter adversaries, and if, and when needed, fight and win alongside our allies and partners.

Another first during Green Flag included an Agile Combat Employment event with the 317th AW and the 2nd BW. This encompassed C-130 aircraft transporting inert munitions, aircraft armament equipment, and Airmen from Barksdale AFB to the Arkansas International Airport. The munitions were then unloaded from the C-130 and rapidly rearmed on to the B-52s, demonstrating Air Force Global Strike Command's capability to provide long-range deterrence from remote airfields, threatening adversaries’ key assets and minimizing risk to Air Force personnel.

“This was the first ever Green Flag integration with Global Strike Command, and more particularly the B-52s, where we were able to utilize the C-130J in executing the ACE capabilities,” said Gumapas. “It was a challenge at first because we don’t normally transport this type of cargo. While there was a lot of moving parts in the process, there were many great lessons learned.”

This GFLR provided the B-52s an opportunity to use their hub-and-spoke method of rearmament in an austere environment and to prosecute a target in an operating area, Gumapas continued.

“We were also able to support the U.S. Army with their ground scheme maneuver, on-call air drops, as well as cargo movement into the operating area,” said Gumapas. “Working with our joint force partners, we were able to drop approximately 250 paratroopers throughout the exercise.”

During an on-call air drop, the aircraft pilot will fly into an objective area where the drop zone is unknown, provide a drop zone location in real-time to a joint terminal attack controller, and then drop the individuals into that area.

“As C-130 pilots, loadmasters and support personnel, this exercise was very important for us to learn the processes and procedures from different airframes and different career fields, and improve how we work together in the joint operating environment,” said Gumapas. “This allowed us as the MAF to expand on our multi-capable warfighting capabilities and to get ready for the high-end fight.”

Gumapas explained that with the current COVID-19 environment it was important to put certain mitigation procedures in place, but to continue with the exercise.

“Despite COVID-19, we’re still going to operate and we’re still going to sustain the mission,” said Gumapas. “This exercise really allowed us to see how we could implement these safety procedures and still continue on with the fight.”

All of the participants received the opportunity to learn from each other and take that knowledge back to their home-stations, said Gumapas.

No two GFLR exercises are ever the same and they continually challenge warfighting skills, while providing real-world experiences with partners that the participants don’t typically integrate with — eliminating redundancies, which increases effectiveness, solves problems, drives innovation, and achieves success.

“We had a lot of ‘firsts’ in this exercise,” said Erwin. “This Green Flag is paving the road for us to continue to grow. This time we grew outside of the MAF and CAF and we want to continue to grow toward other branches of service.”