USAFE members participate in ‘Eagle Flag’ exercise

Capt. Phillip Ulmer
435th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR AND ENGINEERING STATION LAKEHURST, N.J. — More than 100 Airmen from U.S. Air Forces in Europe deployed to a fictional country Friday as part of the Air Mobility Warfare Center’s Eagle Flag exercise. The USAFE Airmen joined more than 200 others from bases around the globe for the 10-day exercise.
Eagle Flag is an Air Mobility Command program designed to evaluate Airmen’s ability to deploy to austere locations, perform bare base and airfield set up and prepare for sustained operations.
“This is a bare base deployment at its best,” said Col. Mike Lewis from the 86th Airlift Wing’s Air and Space Communications Group located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. For the exercise, Colonel Lewis serves as the group commander.
“Everything here, from the planning and implementation to the perimeter and tents, has to be established and built from the ground up,” he said.
The exercise scenario involves Airmen deploying to a bare base in a friendly fictional country called Chimaera. However, terrorists within the area threaten stability within the region. The 421st Expeditionary Air Group’s mission, Operation Noble Scorpion, is to set up a base and establish a working airfield that will be used to help deter, disrupt and defeat the terrorist activities.
Starting from the ground, Airmen dodged severe weather rolling through the area as they pitched tents throughout their first night at the austere location.
“I’ve seen a lot of teamwork tonight,” said Master Sgt. Rob McNatt, first sergeant for the deployed group.
“At first it looked like we were going to get pretty wet,” said Sergeant McNatt, who back home is Ramstein’s 435th Vehicle Readiness Squadron first sergeant. “But everyone, whether they were here from Spangdahlem, Incirlick or Ramstein, worked hard to make sure we had somewhere dry to sleep.”
After the initial sprint to get the base set up, the camp focused on security, sustainment and the mission of establishing the base for flight operations.
“This is the first time I’ve deployed,” said Airman 1st Class Monica Cripe, 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. “I learned a lot about the Air Force and what goes into setting up the base. It’s not as easy as it looks, but this is what I joined the Air Force for.”
Despite the weather, long hours and the challenges, the 421st AEG persevered. Through the initial chaos and confusion, 24 hours later a base stood where there was once an empty field. Airmen who had never met were working in concert, side-by-side to ensure the security of the base and the completion of the mission.
“I’m proud of our USAFE team,” said Colonel Lewis. “This has been a seamless integration of USAFE folks from around the command, projecting combat power where it’s needed. I’ve seen them at their best, and I’m convinced these brave Airmen are ready for any challenge and any deployment thrown their way.”