KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — For the first time, U.S. Air Forces Europe has sent an air operations center to the annual Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., according to a USAFE news release.

The Falconer Air Operations Center cell is made up of 90 members of USAFE’s 32nd Air Operations Group and members of the Air National Guard’s 152nd Air Operations Group from Syracuse, N.Y.

The Falconer team — named for the person who controls a bird of prey — develops and executes air campaign plans, Lt. Col. Teresa Fitzpatrick, 32nd Air Intelligence Squadron commander, said in the release.

The USAFE team is one of five air operations centers in the Air Force, Fitzpatrick said.

“Everyone remembers the footage of a bomb going down the elevator shaft in downtown Baghdad. Well, guys just don’t wake up one day and say, ‘I think I’m going to put a bomb down an elevator shaft in Baghdad today.’ Somebody has to determine why we should do that. That’s the AOC,” Fitzpatrick said.

The exercise runs through Oct. 31.

“Red Flag will allow us to train in a dynamic and challenging environment, which is typical of today’s expeditionary air operations. This is something we can’t typically do [in Europe] because of the intensity,” said Lt. Col. Robert Evans, 32nd AOG commander. “The realism that Red Flag provides is a tremendous opportunity we just can’t duplicate.”

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