May 23, 2014 (by SrA Miles Wilson) - More than 175 reservists from four Air Force Reserve C-130s and airlift control flight units joined coalition forces for Maple Flag Exercise at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada, May 24, 2014.
A C-130 is marshalled onto the runway by A1C Joshua Laber, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, May 21, 2014, Dobbins ARB. The take-off of the aircraft signified the beginning of the 2014 Maple Flag exercise, a mission that simulates an air combat environment and involves large formation maneuvers against airborne and ground-based threats. [USAF photo by SrA Miles Wilson]
"This is a U.S. and Canadian training exercise creating a world-class military opportunity to work with our coalition partners," said Col. James DeVere, 94th Operations Group commander and mission commander for the Air Force Reserve's participation in this year's exercise. "Maple Flag has a long and proud history of providing aircrews with realistic training and a chance to practice combat tactics in an international training environment."
Eight C-130 aircraft and service members from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York, Minneapolis ARS, Minnesota, and Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, along with airlift control flight Airmen from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and March Air Reserve Base, California, will participate in the exercise that ends June 7.
Maple Flag combines these diverse units and creates an atmosphere where cooperation and the ability to adapt are key.
"This is an invaluable training opportunity for the Air Force Reserve," said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Yoder, 700th Airlift Squadron superintendent. "Not only does it allow us to train in a combined and joint setting, but it also provides us with a realistic venue to implement lessons learned from recent operations overseas."
Maple Flag offers a wide variety of mission sets to include transport, electronic warfare, air defense and airborne early warning control assets.
"Our role is to insert troops and equipment in a highly-defended environment," said DeVere, whose unit from Dobbins is fulfilling the lead wing responsibilities for the Reserve's participation in the two-week exercise. "We'll have to avoid radar threats in the process which adds complexity when airdropping and offloading our supplies."
The landscape in Canada is also different from that of local training areas, making for a much more realistic training experience. In addition to the vast unrestricted airspace and modern training facilities, Cold Lake offers mountains, plains, and tundra that crews must all become familiar with when conducting tactical airlift missions.
"The training environment provided by Canadian military forces enhances our training and is an excellent way for us to prepare aircrews for actual combat missions," said DeVere.
Reserve C-130 units will use Maple Flag to demonstrate their unique capabilities and share knowledge while working together against a complex adversary to accomplish a common goal.
"The challenges we will face in this exercise will better prepare us to face the kinds of highly developed and sophisticated threats that are employed against U.S. forces in combat today," said Yoder.
Maple Flag offers participants access to the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which consists of 4,478 square miles of land, and is the only tactical bombing range in Canada.