June 11, 2008 (by A1C Nora Anton) - The walls are decorated with old Soviet Union propaganda, urging admirers of the art to note a "Glory to the Soviet People -- The Creator of Powerful Aviation", and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics flags with the infamous hammer and sickle graphic are spread throughout the building.
Pilots of the 18th AS immerse themselves with items such as their unit patch in Russian and the Chinese Flag to think in the mindset of other nations. This helps them in Red-Flag Alaska where they replicate the 'threat' in an exercise designed to provide aircrew training to increase their chances of survival in combat environments. [USAF photo by A1C. Nora Anton]
However, these walls covered in Soviet decor belong to a group of American Airmen replicating the threat posed by the former USSR. The Aggressors accomplish this by using aircraft painted in old Soviet-style blue, black and forest flanker themes, Soviet-style air tactics and has even been known to play the Russian national anthem from time to time.
The Blue Foxes of the 18th Aggressor Squadron even translated their motto, "Have at You!" into Russian (pronounced dai u tebya). The saying is taken from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which the pilots loosely interpret as: "Somebody is going to attack you."
"The 18th AGRS
chose the pretense of the Soviet Union because they represented a serious historical threat to us, but are no longer [a threat] because the Cold War is over," said Capt. Todd "Borus" Hale, 18th AGRS pilot. "Also, the propaganda is readily available online for us to purchase, it's just convenient."
He also said that Russia is currently the largest exporter of military equipment and military technology, so those countries who buy that equipment end up fighting war with the same doctrines and instruction.
"We do learn as much as we possibly can about Russian technology and how they do their job," said Captain Hale. "This is beneficial to our training because the way the enemy fights war typically ends up being similar to the way the Russians do it."
The Aggressor's job is to know, teach and replicate the threat better than any other squadron.
"My level of knowledge about enemy threat systems has increased exponentially," said Capt. Jenner Torrence, another pilot with the 18th AGRS. "It's a change in tactical mindset; you have to train like you're going to fight and the Aggressors provide that training."
"It is vitally important to replicate the enemy threat with more than just painting our jets with old Soviet flanker themes," Captain Hale said. "We do our best to replicate every aspect of the exercise, including missiles, information operations and ground operations."
He said the Blue Foxes completely immerse themselves in a Soviet-way of thinking.
"We even fly the way they fly," he said. "The 'Red Aircraft' (enemy), or the Blue Foxes, are controlled by ground controllers, whereas the 'Blue Aircraft' (friendly) fly somewhat autonomously--the way the Western world tends to fly."
Captain Hale also speaks fluent Russian, which he learned while he spent two years in Russia as a missionary. While he was there he also acquired an authentic antique USSR flag, which has the hammer and sickle graphic surrounded by "Working Class of All Nations Unite" embroidered in the fourteen different languages of the USSR. He said this is the most authentic relic in the squadron.
The 18th AGRS prepares Combat Air Force, joint and allied aircrews for tomorrow's victories through challenging, realistic threat replication, training, test support, academics and feedback.