Blue Streak

As part of its planned renaissance of multi-domain command and control, the Air Force is returning to a routine schedule of Blue Flag exercises, which train command centers at the operational level of war, Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes said April 13. “For the last four or five years we have de-emphasized the Blue Flag exercises, because we didn’t have the money or the time” to conduct them, said Holmes at an AFA Langley Chapter symposium at JB Langley-Eustis, Va. “We’ve realized that we need to find the money and the time and so we’re back on a schedule where we will do three Blue Flags every two years.” The schedule will alternate between one in a year followed by two the following year, and repeating. Also, “we’ve taken Blue Flag from being a joint air planning exercise to where it now brings in cyber and space threats.” It will be connected with Air Force Space Command assets and the two commands will train together, since the areas of command and control between them are so inextricably linked. The idea is to “work through problems together” and instead of simply declaring occasionally that space assets are denied, such scenarios will demand that the two commands “solve it together.” Part of this re-emphasis will include new investment of “physical … and virtual ranges” to improve the live, virtual, and constructive element of the exercise. This will allow Air and Space Operations Center crews to train “in the same way that our aircrews have trained in that environment, so they can see problems over and over and over, work through solutions, … learn, [and] capture best practices, like we know how to do in the air.”