Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Space Flag exercise wrapped its eighth exercise at the Boeing Virtual Warfare Center on the day the U.S. Space Force was created.
The Space Force announced Thursday that the exercise, which started Dec. 9 at the Boeing Virtual Warfare Center under the auspices of the Air Force Space Command, finished on Dec. 20, the day President Donald Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, creating the Space Force as a separate branch of military.
"The completion of Space Flag 20-1 on the same day as the establishment of the U.S. Space Force is really symbolic of the way we have evolved our understanding of, and approach to, operating in space," said Brig. Gen. DeAnna Burt, director of operations and communications for the United States Space Force.
"Simply put, this exercise exists to make this generation better warfighters in the space domain," said Maj. Neil Fournie, Space Flag exercise director. "Some of these Airmen have operated their specific systems for two to three years. But here, they learn the bigger picture of how to operate in a domain that can one day be contested, degraded, and operationally-limited or placed in a conflict scenario."
Space Flag, which began in 2017 and was modeled after the Air Force Red Flag exercises, is the branch's sole large-force employment exercise.
During the exercise, participants are organized within "blue" and "red" cells in simulated maneuvers -- with the latter representing what the adversary wants to accomplish.
The National Reconnaissance Office, National Space Defense Center and the Combined Space Operations Center provide command and control functions as part of the "white cell," a third participating group.
A total of 96 players participated in the exercise, including 64 blue cell, 19 white cell and 13 red cell participants, including active duty and reserve airmen from the 21st, 50th, 460th and 310th space wings as well as Air Combat Command, the Army, the Navy and the National Reconnaissance Office personnel.
Earlier this week Gen. John Raymond was signed in as head of the Space Force and L3Harris received a $12.9 million contract for National Space Defense Center sustainment, amid assurances from the Pentagon that the acquisitions process would be unfettered despite the bureaucratic shakeup caused by the creation of the new branch.