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Warbirds participate in Green Flag East 17-03

The sun rises behind a B-52H Stratofortress at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Jan. 26, 2017. Airmen from the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work around the clock in all weather conditions to provide B-52 firepower on demand. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

The sun rises behind a B-52H Stratofortress at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Jan. 26, 2017. Airmen from the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work around the clock in all weather conditions to provide B-52 firepower on demand. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Airmen from across the 23rd Bomb Squadron, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 5th Operations Support Squadron participated in exercise Green Flag East 17-03, which took place Jan. 13-27, 2017.

Green Flag East is a joint simulated combat operation held between Barksdale Air Force Base and Fort Polk, La., to employ close air support and home communication between air and ground forces. More than 1,000 Airmen and 30,000 U.S. Army Soldiers participated in preparation to support U.S. Central Command’s Operation Inherent Resolve.

“Our role is to execute strikes against pre-planned targets and provide close air support, armed over watch, convoy escort and psychological operations in support of U.S. forces,” said Capt. Erik Nelson, 23rd BS b-flight commander. “This exercise allowed us to integrate in real-time with joint assets on the ground in a contested, degraded and operationally-limited environment.”

The 23rd BS flew three B-52H Stratofortresses per day, cycling between 11 five-member crews. They employed simulated GPS-guided munitions, laser-guided munitions and leaflet bombs on target sets representing ones that they will see downrange.

According to Lt. Col. Michael Maginness, 23rd BS commander, Green Flag East was the validation exercise for the squadron prior to taking over day-to-day operations in U.S. CENTCOM.

“We used this exercise for a cradle-to-grave rehearsal,” said Maginness. “We tested our ability to fly continuous area of responsibility coverage over 12 hours with three separate jets.”

In addition to the 23rd BS, approximately 350 personnel from the 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit participated in the exercise. Their role was to sustain and provide combat-capable aircraft to the bomb squadron. Maintainers trained using the same six aircraft that will be employed downrange – launching, recovering and fixing aircraft after flight, in an extremely shortened time-frame.

“Short of deploying to an area of responsibility, this is the most realistic combat experience the 23rd AMU will get,” said Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Poole, 5th AMXS lead production superintendent. “They gained valuable quick-turnaround experience in a simulated combat environment.”

The 5th Bomb Wing demonstrated their ability to ‘Own It’ and project B-52 firepower on demand in preparation to support U.S. CENTCOM.

“The lessons learned from Green Flag gave us the opportunity to refine training and be ready to strike any target set, anytime, anywhere,” said Maginness.
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