Friday, September 06, 2013

Testing, tactics, training: Training squadron sets the bar

Military members and civilians from the 505th Test Squadron operate in a continuation training exercise to provide currency training and to certify new instructors Aug. 28, 2013, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The squadron is focused on providing advanced air operations center training, AOC testing and tactics development at the operational level of war. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher Tam) 

By Airman 1st Class Timothy Young, 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- The 505th Test Squadron provides testing, tactics development and training for the United States military and coalition forces.

Their focus is on providing advanced air operations center training and AOC testing and tactics development at the operational level of war.

An AOC is the senior command and control element of the Air Force's Theater Air Control System and is responsible for effectively planning, directing and executing joint air operations in support of the joint force commander's operation or campaign objectives.

The squadron is heavily focused on the United States Air Force Warfare Center commander's priorities of integrating air, space and cyberspace in simulated war-fighting.

"The 505th TS is able to meet these priorities through our advanced training and testing efforts," said Don Russell, a 505th TS command and control instructor and training specialist.
Trying to provide advanced operational level training using a combination of live, virtual and constructive exercises such as Red Flag and Virtual Flag is an important goal of the squadron.

"What we strive to do is provide the most realistic training environments that challenge operations and intelligence workers," Russell said. "We attempt to push these (workers) out of their comfort zones to simulate stresses of major combat operations."
The 505th TS is able to provide this advanced training using a well trained staff comprising 20 different Air Force specialty codes and various exercises to create an unmatched training opportunity for AOC workers.
The squadron also trains members of the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, air operations groups and squadrons across the U.S.
"Our training audience is quite diversified" Russell said. The squadron trains active-duty Air Force, joint and coalition service members from various geographic and functional AOCs across the world. We see the full spectrum of professionals -- from inexperienced to experienced." 
The most unique experience for the squadron's staff is the ability to plan, brief, execute and debrief with the tactical audience, Russell said.

"Typically at an operational AOC, the (operations tempo) and time and distance from the flying units inhibit a thorough brief and debrief process," said Capt. Mark Wuertz, a 505th TS test manager. "Having operational level participants on temporary duty at Nellis AFB interacting with the tactical crews is invaluable to their training and provides a positive learning experience that will stay with them throughout their career."

According to Wuertz, overall, Nellis AFB provides a unique capability to the warfighter with members from the 414th Combat Training Squadron, 561st Joint Tactics Squadron, U.S. Air Force Weapons School and both the 64th and 65th Aggressor Squadrons all contributing to the learning experience for the warfighter.

Members of the mission support ensure the squadron's ability to smoothly conduct its operations. This directorate supports all experimentation, testing and training events at Combined Air Operations Center Nellis.

"The mission support team provides technical expertise to all agencies planning to use the CAOC-N facility and maintains state-of-the-art systems in support of command and control training activities tailored to meet the training objectives of today's warfighter," said Master Sgt. Lyanna M. PenaLewis, the 505th TS mission support superintendent and interim security director. "Additionally the mission support reviews (organizations) requirements for training events and provides assistance."

The directorate's staff maintains in excess of $44 million in equipment and facilities for the squadron and CAOC-N. Some maintenance, including circuits, training networks, computer services and modeling and simulation support is mostly done during an events execution.

Mission support provides periodic updates of system status to the squadron commander and input to the operations director for the after action report produced at the conclusion of all events executed at the CAOC-N.

PenaLewis said while working with coalition forces on her last deployment, she was able to see firsthand the benefits of the training provided by the 505th TS.

"It's amazing to see the planning and training portion of exercises for missions that I saw executed downrange," PenaLewis said.

The 505th uses every tool available at Nellis AFB to reach its overall goal of providing advanced AOC training, testing and tactics development in preparation for real-world events.