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Olympic Flag exercise to test 20th AF missileers


The 20th Air Force will be hosting a week long, operationally focused exercise named Olympic Flag at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, Sept. 10 - 14, 2017. The exercise will bring together missileers from 20th’s three missile wings to evaluate their knowledge, test their skill sets and to collect best practices across the ICBM force.


The flag exercise is designed to highlight the importance of training and job proficiency, similar to the Red Flag exercise in which fighter pilots come together to test their combat skills at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.


“I want crew members to identify best practices and to hone their mission planning skills,” said Major General Anthony Cotton, 20th AF commander. “The skills they use on a daily basis performing alert activities when they go out to the field are critical to the mission and the nation.”


The exercise is not like the competition known as Global Strike Challenge which pits wings against each other. It is designed to be learning opportunity, focusing more on the missileers’ daily tasks.


“This exercise will help provide a force-wide look into how we conduct day-to-day operations,” said Capt. Bryce Acres, 20th AF future operations and programs chief. “Olympic Flag will also provide insight into areas we can improve and areas where we are already excelling. Information on lessons learned and best practices will be shared throughout the entire ICBM force which will make the event a force multiplier.”


The three missile wings participating in Olympic Flag are the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.


“Three crews representing the three operations groups can expect to be in the missile procedures trainer for three days, covering a total of 27 hours of training,” said Acres. “During the exercise, crews will experience scenarios covering day-to-day operations, all the way up to a full-scale conflict.”


Like all Airmen, missileers constantly train to improve their proficiency and to ensure they are operating safely, securely and effectively to fulfill their nuclear deterrence mission.


“Exercises are important because they give missileers an opportunity to apply their training in a realistic scenario,” said 1st Lt. Madelaine Ross, 319th Missile Squadron assistant flight commander. “It’s fun to do your job and apply it realistically. These exercises enable us to work with a lot of people we wouldn’t usually work with, so it can give the missileers a broader perspective on the importance of their specific roles in the overall mission.”


For this flag exercise, only the operations groups are being evaluated. Future Olympic Flag plans will include the mission support groups, maintenance groups and security forces groups to evaluate all aspects of missile field operations.


“This is a great opportunity for us as we continue to move forward and make some incredible changes to the way we do business in the nuclear enterprise,” Cotton said. “Having a flag exercise within 20th Air Force is something we haven’t done in this manner before. I am excited and hope that the crew members and the senior leadership throughout 20th Air Force will be excited too.”