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Virtual Flag Provides Unique Training for JSTARS Crews | Business

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Virtual Flag Provides Unique Training for JSTARS Crews
Virtual Flag Provides Unique Training for JSTARS Crews


ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – The 461st and 116th Air Control Wings at Robins participated in a week-long Virtual Flag exercise in late March designed to provide realistic warfighter training in a simulated environment, a Robins Air Force Base news release says.

Hosting the exercise was the Air Force Distributed Mission Operations Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Virtual Flag simulations are quarterly, linking operational and tactical training of various weapons systems platforms across the armed services.

“You have these different platforms that are sometimes not available to go to an actual flying exercise,” said Maj. Jon Prindle, 16th Air Command and Control Squadron, who served as the exercise mission crew commander. “Virtual Flag reduced some of those costs, yet is available for a variety of units to participate in whatever scenario (DMOC) designs.”

Capt. Michael Povilus, a 16th ACCS air battle manager and VF senior director, agreed. Both men were new to this year’s exercises.

Stationed in a room used to simulate a live aircraft, the exercise included sophisticated communication techniques, including virtual teleconferencing, to conduct briefings with senior leaders and other players.

“We focused on our operations and intelligence sections,” explained Prindle, an Air Force veteran of nearly 20 years. “In this scenario, we were looking for specific types of movement. It’s interesting what we’re able to accomplish in tracking different things.”

Each day the Robins crew, which also included controllers, surveillance personnel, sensor operator, air weapons officers, and radar trackers, would receive a set of challenges to solve for that day. Some days would last up to 14 hours.

A first for the exercises was Prindle serving as its package commander for command and control for the first two days. This proved challenging in the beginning, yet helped set the tone for the hundreds of other participants the rest of the week.    

“I think that was a testament to the training here at JSTARS, because most of our team are new and relatively inexperienced in this platform – myself included,” said Povilus. “We were assigned such a big task as a team, led by Prindle. We made it go very well, and set a very high standard for the rest of the exercise and external players.”   

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