Silver Flag prepares Airmen for phases of deployment 

Maj. Michael Kleiman U.S. Air Forces in Europe

Expeditionary life becomes a reality for more than 200 Airmen representing all U.S. Air Forces in Europe installations and a variety of career fields July 16 through Sunday as they participate in the Silver Flag exercise at Ramstein.
“The event, originally initiated at Ramstein in September 1979, provided wartime readiness skills to USAFE’s civil engineers. But in recent years, it has expanded to include participants representing 12 separate functional areas from 37 different Air Force Specialty Codes,” said Lt. Col. Eric Yates, 435th Construction and Training Squadron commander, the Ramstein unit that manages the exercise.
“The USAFE Silver Flag exercise is the Air Force’s premiere site for expeditionary combat support training, Colonel Yates said. “It brings together over a dozen diverse career fields to one location to hone their war fighting skills.”
Preparing Airmen in the ranks of technical sergeant to major with expeditionary leadership skills represents the calling of this new program, which is assigned to USAFE’s Combat Support Center, said Col. Charles Weiss, who heads the CSC.
“Our primary mission is to educate mid-level leaders on phases of deployment, then provide an environment for them to apply what they’ve learned,” he said.
Approximately 25 to 30 students attend the eight days of training which is divided into four primary phases: pre-deployment, post-deployment, deployment and the field training exercise. Classroom instruction is conducted at the 435th CTS’s compound at Ramstein.
 “The Expeditionary Leadership Program is unique in that our curriculum integrates the various functional areas and is designed to flow sequentially like a deployment,” said Maj. Kristin Uchimura, assigned to the 38th Combat Support Center.
Reintegration is a huge concern issue across the Air Force, and the ELP does a good job of preparing Airmen for common issues that they or their troops may encounter while deployed, Major Uchimura said.
“We do a good job of providing the resources to assist them in taking care of their personal and military family,” she said.
Another critical aspect of the exercise is the field training portion, which occurs in the final four days.
“Field training tests the students’ job knowledge and abilities under fire as they build and establish a deployed city from a bare base environment, as well as meet the challenges of numerous operational and security scenarios,” said Colonel Yates. “The expeditionary realism benefits all the participants, as well as significantly enhances their deployment situational awareness.”
This Silver Flag exercise marks the second time the ELP will provide instruction on such topics as beddown planning, equipment readiness, deployed emergency services, deployed situation scenarios and family reintegration. The CSC currently plans to conduct six to eight ELPs per year to teach Airmen to hit the ground running at the deployed location.
Silver Flag also occurs at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., as well as at Kadena Air Base, Japan, but it is the integration of assorted personnel and positions during all phases of the exercise that makes U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s version unique.
“Although it’s celebrating 25 years of training thousands of expeditionary warriors,” Colonel Yates said, “Silver Flag continues to evolve to ensure USAFE Airmen are properly prepared and ready to deploy anytime, anywhere.”