DGS-MA Analysts Participate in Joint Virtual Exercise

  • Published
  • By 101st Intelligence Squadron
  • 102nd Intelligence Wing
Eight Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance analysts from Distributed Ground Station-Massachusetts (DGS-MA) recently participated in one of the most unique training environments in the world.

The DGS-MA analysts, along with two analysts from the Office of Naval Intelligence comprised the DGS component during exercise Virtual Flag 14-1, November 12-22 at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

Virtual Flag 14-1 was a seven-day training exercise focused on joint integration in a major theater war. While the exercise focused on four primary mission areas: integrated air and missile defense; close air support, command and control (C2) and air operations in maritime surface warfare, many more challenging mission sets were exercised during the event.

During Virtual Flag 14-1 more than 300 joint participants operated from 24 locations nationwide to prepare for combat in a highly realistic training environment. These forces, representing different elements of full-spectrum theater air warfare, included C2, transport, air superiority, simulated strike and reconnaissance aircraft, as well as ground elements conducting C2, cyber warfare and tactical air control.

"Participation in Virtual Flag allowed our analysts a glimpse of the demands that a future conflict against a peer adversary in an anti-access, area denial scenario would place on them. They were able to see, in real time, how their skill and trade craft could help find, fix, and target an adversary while keeping aircrews out of harms way," said Col. David McNulty, 102nd Intelligence Group commander.

Virtual Flag, hosted by the Distributed Missions Operations Center at Kirtland AFB, is currently the largest virtual exercise conducted in the U.S. The quarterly training event allows U.S. and coalition partner aircrews to train for combat in large-scale joint and coalition environments by linking simulators together and flying missions as one unit.

At the strategic level, Virtual Flag allows senior Air Force and Department of Defense leaders to practice the integration of large numbers of forces to achieve strategic objectives. On a smaller scale, aircrews gain experience in integrating the particular strengths of their weapon system and the tactics they employ into an overall battle plan.

The virtual nature of these exercises gives planners the flexibility to tailor each fight to maximize training objectives and incorporate lessons learned during previous exercises. Aircrews are not bound by airspace boundaries or noise-abatement procedures and can hone their craft in any simulated area of interest worldwide.

Additionally, Virtual Flag allows planners to accomplish training similar to a live-fly exercise at a fraction of the cost, by eliminating many of the temporary duty expenses required to bring participants together for a similar live exercise.