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I'll post part two (the cool part ) tomorrow when its done. In the meantime, enjoy:
examiner.com wrote:The Aggressors: Someone has to play the bad guy. Part One
NY Military and Civil Aviation Examiner
Borne out of the lessons of the disastrous air war over Vietnam, the United States Air Force (USAF) 57th Adversary Tactics Group (ATG) exists to prepare American airmen for the threats they will face over the modern battlefield. Consisting of nine aggressor squadrons, the 57th ATG is “threat central” for the USAF, says Colonel Andrew “Drifter” Toth, the unit’s commander.
The Group includes two flying squadrons, two Space Aggressor squadrons, two Information Aggressor squadrons, an Intelligence Aggressor squadron, an Air Defense Aggressor squadron, and a support squadron. Together, these Aggressor squadrons provide the friendly “Blue Forces” a fully integrated simulated adversary that covers the entire spectrum of possible threats faced by US airpower.
Originally, when the 57th ATG was formed during the 1970s, Toth explained that the Group’s role was to act an adversary force for the USAF’s massive Red Flag war games. “The mission of the adversaries was to prep guys for their first 10 sorties during Red Flag”, Toth explained. “Kill ratios were dropping, so the Air Force created Red Flag” to rectify the problem, he added.
Due to their success, in 2005 the USAF began to significantly expand the adversary mission. Under a directive from then USAF Vice-Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley, the USAF began to “build up the aggressors to encompass all dimensions of the threat- not just strictly focusing on the air, but also space and information warfare”, Toth explained. “General Moseley’s vision was that the Aggressors would become Threat Central”, he added.
During the present day Red Flag exercises, Toth explains that the Space Aggressor units simulate threats against Blue Force space based communications and navigation systems by jamming Global Positioning Systems (GPS) signals, satellite communications (SATCOM), and certain UHF radio signals. Meanwhile, the Information Aggressors simulate attacks on Blue Force computer networks and information systems. At the same time the 57th Information Aggressor Squadron (57th IAS) might attempt to infiltrate Blue Force bases- including their dorms- to search for intelligence useful to the Aggressors during the simulated war. Combined with the aerial Aggressors flying the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters, these Aggressor forces mount a coordinated offensive against the Blue Force during exercises, Toth explained.
Red Flag is not the only “large force” exercises that the 57th ATG supports however, Toth said. The Aggressors also play a vital role in just about every large USAF or Joint aerial exercise. These large-scale exercises include Spirit Hawk, Green Flag, and the USAF Weapons School Mission Employment Phase exercise. The 57th ATG also supports “road shows” where they travel to different bases in order to provide flying demonstrations, academic lessons, or a combination of both on their respective threat scenarios.
Because of the vital nature of the adversary mission, Toth emphasizes that the units under his command must be “professional Aggressors”. Operating under the mantra of “know, teach, replicate”, the Aggressors “gather intelligence information on the threat and become subject matter experts” in their respective fields, Toth said. The Aggressors then teach the nature of these threats and their tactics to their operational brethren. Passing on these lessons is vital for the operational squadrons in learning how to defeat any potential enemies they might one day face. Finally, the Aggressors learn how to replicate the enemy weapons systems and their tactics as best they can in order to simulate these threats during exercises.
During “large force” exercises such as the Weapons School Mission Employment Phase or Red Flag, the two Space Aggressor squadrons (527th and 26th Space Aggressor Squadrons) replicate procedures that a potential enemy would use to disrupt friendly space based communications and navigation systems, Toth explains. “We think this is the potential threat”, Toth said, adding that the adversary scenarios are based on national level intelligence assessments of current threats.
In addition to disrupting Blue Force space assets, the Aggressors also integrate their own space assets into the planning and execution of their simulated air war against the Blue Forces. Not only does this provide for a more realistic threat presentation for the Blue Forces, it also affords them the opportunity to engage a “targetable space network” as they would in the real world, Toth added.
Similarly, in order to replicate the very real danger of computer network infiltration attacks the 57th Information Aggressor Squadron stages elaborate attacks on various USAF installations in order to test their defenses, Toth explained. The unit “will go to a base, get into their network, and try to gather as much intelligence as possible”, Toth said. Computer network attack can range from anything from a lone 16-year-old hacker, to terrorist organizations, to highly organized attacks coordinated by a foreign power. “Any time you turn on the news, the threat is out there”, Toth remarked.
Toth said that due to the serious nature of the threat, the simulated attacks have to be very realistic. The bases that are subject to a simulated network attack by the Aggressors are not given any prior warning, Toth stated. He added that only a few seniors officer are given prior notice of these “stimulation exercises” in order to ensure that the Aggressors tactics are not mistaken for an actual attack on the USAF network.
Cyber warfare is a new and highly specialized field for the USAF, Toth said. Personnel are being drawn from a multitude of USAF career fields in order to be trained for this new battlefield of the 21st Century, he explained. Toth added that ”it takes a long time” to get personnel “up to speed”.
In many ways, Toth says, the USAF cyber warfare personnel are trained to do the “same thing they’d be doing at a large corporation”. He explained that even though the USAF can never hope to match the pay scale of private industry, the Aggressors have no trouble retaining the highly specialized skills of their airmen. “What I find with the Guard, Reserve, and active duty personnel is that they love what they do. They’re dedicated to the Aggressor mission and there’s a deep sense of Patriotism there”, Toth explains.
While the Space and Information Aggressors are the newest additions to the 57th ATG family, they are fully integrated with the rest of the Group. Both types of this new generation of Aggressor squadrons are full participants in the traditional air combat exercises that are supported by the 57th ATG.
The traditional adversary air combat training mission of the 57th ATG is executed by the Group’s 64th and 65th Aggressor Squadrons. These two elite squadrons field the F-16C Fighting Falcon and the F-15C Eagle to replicate enemy air threats such as the Russian-built Su-30 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters. Additionally, the Group’s 507th Air Defense Aggressor Squadron simulates ground threats such as Surface to Air Missile (SAM) systems and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA). Toth said that he himself is a graduate of the elite USAF Weapons School and flies the F-15C Eagle with the 65th Aggressor Squadron when he is not occupied by his duties as the commander of the entire Group.
Part 2 will take a closer look at the flying mission of the elite 64th and 65th Aggressor Squadrons.
source: http://www.examiner.com/x-5411-NY-Milit ... y-Part-One