Desert Lightning News, Nellis-Creech AFB Edition, April 1, 2022
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 vol. 5, no. 7 Serving Southern Nevada’s military community, including Nellis, Creech and NTTR April 1, 2022 An Aerotech news And review publicAtion •
Red Flag 22-2: Thunderbolts lead the way
 by Staff Sgt. Austin Siegel
Nellis AFB, Nev.
During the Vietnam War, the United States Air Force lost more than 1,700 aircraft and thousands of aircrew, sparking an immediate need to better prepare aircrews for combat. After the war ended in 1975, the Air Force established an air-focused exercise called Red Flag where aircrews could simulate their first several “combat” missions in a training environment.
Since its inception, Red Flag has been held three times a year at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., nestled on the northeastern outskirts of the Las Vegas metropoli- tan area. It’s been a pivotal training exercise for units across the Department of Defense alongside more than 30 allied countries and coalition forces. Units like the 389th Fighter Squadron come from all over the world to refine their combat skills at Red Flag, giving aircrews a distinct advantage over adversaries.
The 389th FS, also referred to as the Thunderbolts or T-Bolts, is one of many squadrons that make up the 366th Fighter Wing based out of Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The T-Bolts have more responsibil- ity as the core wing for Red Flag 22-2 which includes commanding and controlling approximately 55 air- craft from several different wings across the U.S. Air Force, in addition to units from the U.S. Navy, U.S Marine Corps, Air National Guard, Royal Saudi Air Force, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
“Red Flag 22-2 gives us a chance to strengthen our partnership capacity, in addition to further developing relations with our allies and sister services,” said Lt. Col. Breacher ‘Magnus’ Webb, 389th Fighter Squad- ron commander. “In a growing number of potential conflicts, we’re going to need to rely on our security
Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Austin Siegel
Staff Sgt. Brad Clifton, 389th Fighter Generation Squadron support NCOIC, organizes an e-tool charging station during Red Flag-Nellis 22-2 on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., March 10, 2022. Technical orders are loaded onto e-tools to be utilized for all aircraft maintenance procedures; ensuring aircraft safety and compliance.
Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Austin Siegel
A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle from the 389th Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, lifts off for the Nevada Test and Training Range during Red Flag-Nellis 22-2 on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., March 9, 2022. The Nevada Test and Training Range is the U.S. Air Force’s premiere military training area with more than 12,000 square miles of airspace.
   partners, so integration is not only key to ensuring air dominance, but great real-world experience for all Red Flag personnel.”
In addition to aircrews, there are a variety of other career fields present during Red Flag, including main- tenance, intelligence, safety, logistics and other various support roles that work around the clock during the two-week long exercise to ensure mission success.
“This is the first TDY (temporary duty assignment)
Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Austin Siegel
Senior Airman Jake Lenoue, 389th Fighter Generation Squadron avionics technician journeyman, right, works with Senior Airman Jake Fallat, 389th FGS maintenance supply liaison, to locate parts during Red Flag-Nellis 22-2 on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., March 10, 2022. The supply liaison is directly integrated with the Squadron to track, source and retrieve parts efficiently for maintenance personnel.
for most of us working as support.” said Staff Sergeant Brad Clifton, 389th Fighter Generation Squadron support NCO in charge. “I’ve been a maintainer for many years, but working as support is a completely different ballgame, so I really lean on Senior Airman Shiaikis because he brings a lot of valuable experience to the team.”
Red Flag 22-2 not only improves an Airman’s techni- cal skills in a deployment-like environment, but also strengthens team camaraderie and cohesion.
“This is my first time being in a leadership position at Red Flag, and it can definitely be stressful at times, but leadership has been great.” said Senior Airman Ely Shilaikis, 389th FGS consolidated tool kit primary custodian. “I’ve taken a ton of notes which will be helpful in the future, but this opportunity has already strengthened my communication skills and taught me to be less emotional and more calculated when it comes to making decisions.”
Although the main Red Flag has been held at Nel- lis Air Force Base for decades, there are two other iterations of Red Flag: Red Flag-Alaska and Red Flag- Rescue. These exercises run throughout the year with different aircraft, allies and objectives to ensure a more ready and lethal force.
“There’s something special about going TDY with the T-Bolts to Nellis, you just get to know people on a deeper level,” concluded Webb. “Watching the Thun- derbolts grow is not only exciting, but really brings it all home for me as a commander.”

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