168th Wing and allies deliver vital aerial refueling operations at Red Flag Alaska 23-2 Published June 30, 2023 By Senior Master Sgt. Avey 168th Wing EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- The 168th Wing from Eielson Air Force Base trained with U.S. Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force, and Japan Self-Defense Force service members during Red Flag-Alaska 23-2, a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored annual exercise designed to enhance readiness in simulated combat environments. During Red Flag, the vital contributions of air refueling were showcased upon the 100th anniversary of air refueling. Air Refueling is essential to aerial operations, strengthening alliances and enhancing capabilities. “We continue to support the National Security both home and abroad with partner nations and allies,” said Lt. Col. Rick Walsh, 168th Wing Operations Support Squadron commander. “The Red Flag exercises we train in every year providing refueling allows us to continue to grow joint operational readiness. Our wing stands ready at a moment’s notice here in the Arctic daily, and with the relationships we have built, we are able to provide top-notch refueling.” The 168th WG and international counterparts provided air power through the aerial refueling mission during RF-A 23-2. Aerial refueling increases combat aircraft’s speed, range, lethality, and versatility. There were approximately 2,500 personnel and 70 participating aircraft, strengthening interoperability amongst allies and partners, including JASDF and ROKAF demonstrating a commitment to a free, secure, and prosperous world. The multinational exercise allows Air Forces from different countries to integrate and is a testament to the collaborative spirit and shared commitment to maintaining peace and security. The seamless integration of air refueling was delivered. “During the exercise, we were able to exchange tactics and techniques as a part of the joint engagement,” said Maj. Jeffrey Boesche, 168th Wing KC-135 Stratotanker pilot. “It is nice to get to know each other and share while serving together. The engagement allows us to maximize our capabilities.” Air refueling provides meaningful maneuvers to deter aggression and provides lethality in combat missions. “The exercise allows us to train and complete the mission successfully with our joint and coalition partners,” said Boesche. The 168th WG continues to be prepared to execute its air refueling mission providing lethal combat forces. The air refueling provided to aircraft extends the range to rapidly respond and allows pilots to remain in the fight longer. The annual exercise re-reinforces the Department of Defense’s continued commitment to readiness in the Pacific theater.