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2nd Lt. Mark Flannery meets with the mayor of a nearby village to pave new relations between U.S. forces and people from the fictitious Kingdom of Nessor as part of "Operation EAGLE FLAG." The exercise is designed to provide U.S. forces with an environment to test the knowledge and skills required for any type of forward operation, in any condition, regardless of mission or aircraft type. Flannery was the only Airman specifically recognized for individual efforts during the official out-brief, provided by the staff from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst's Expeditionary Operations Center cadre and evaluation team. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jason Brown)
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'Chief's Own' soars at EAGLE FLAG

Posted 8/29/2011   Updated 8/29/2011 Email story   Print story


from 11th Wing and 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

8/29/2011 - Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. -- After all was said and done following an intense week-long exercise at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., evaluators mention only one functional area manager -- 2nd Lt. Mark Flannery.

Flannery, a public affairs officer from "The Chief's Own" 11th Wing at Joint Base Andrews, Md., was the only Airman specifically recognized for individual efforts during the official "Operation EAGLE FLAG" out-brief, provided by the staff from JB MDL's Expeditionary Operations Center cadre and evaluation team. Flannery served as the PAO for the 421st Air Expeditionary Group, the unit tasked with operating the air base during EAGLE FLAG, which ran from Aug. 14 to 21.

"Lieutenant Flannery provided trusted advice and counsel to his leadership," evaluators said during their presentation. "He and his team had to overcome a number of challenges throughout the exercise, but in the end, did an outstanding job."

For nearly the duration of the exercise, Flannery and his sole teammate, Senior Airman Jason Brown, a journalist from the 633rd Air Base Wing public affairs office at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., operated with approximately 25 percent of the expected equipment and network connectivity.

The tandem created a complete arsenal of public affairs products and services for the 421st AEG in only 48 hours, while garnering praise from leadership, exhibiting control over hostile media and earning respect from the fictitious host nation, the Kingdom of Nessor.

"This exercise was definitely an eye-opening experience for me, seeing a lot of worst-case scenarios materialize and having to respond quickly and effectively," Brown said. "Lieutenant Flannery knew what to do and led the way. It made all the difference in getting our mission accomplished."

Brown's efforts earned him recognition and a commander's coin for outstanding performance as a photojournalist from Col. Kenneth D'Alfonso, the 633rd Mission Support Group commander, who served as commander of the 421st AEG during the exercise.

"It was an honor to represent 'The Chief's Own' at what turned into a thoroughly challenging exercise," Flannery said. "To be the only person recognized by name in the out-brief was a real surprise considering the amazing group of people with whom I got to work and who earned awards.

"This was completely a team effort that could not have been done without Senior Airman Brown," Flannery said. "Our area had pretty much non-stop operations but made it happen because of our energetic leadership, hard work, and clear focus on the mission. I'm really proud of what we and everyone at the AEG accomplished."

D'Alfonso, a seasoned EAGLE FLAG veteran, praised his team for their dedication following the briefing.

"This was the fifth EAGLE FLAG that I've participated in," D'Alfonso said. "This has by far been the best group I've ever worked with."

The 421st AEG consisted primarily of Airmen from the 633rd Mission Support Group at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, but also included augmentees from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.

According to the Expeditionary Operations School, the goal of EAGLE FLAG is to "provide U.S. forces with an environment to exercise the knowledge and skills required for any type of forward operation, in any environment, regardless of mission or aircraft type."

This particular execution of EAGLE FLAG focused on standing up a forward operating base for extended operations while also providing difficult scenarios and injects to test everyone from the seasoned combatant commanders to the newest Airmen. Injects included assault allegations from local villagers, political asylum requests, armed assaults and chemical attacks, along with real-world lightning storms and battles with rain, bugs and heat stress.

"To be honest, I wanted to go in there and just dominate this exercise," Flannery said. "I wanted there to be no question what 'The Chief's Own' brings to the fight."

This was the 31st execution of Operation EAGLE FLAG, running concurrently
with another exercise on managing a major humanitarian crisis focusing and
featuring units primarily from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

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