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Col. Matthew Jones - Commander, 101st AOG
Command Chief Master Sgt. Karne Bennett - CCMSgt, 101st AOG

Year in Review 2019

From their homeland defense mission in the skies over the continental U.S. to providing aerial support to local authorities following natural disasters, the men and women of the 601st Air Operations Center (AOC) and 101st Air and Space Operations Group (AOG) have seen a lot throughout 2019. Often referred to as “America’s AOC,” the AOC plans, directs, and assesses air operations for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.

The AOC conducted foreign disaster relief operations, provided the Air Defense shield to three special security events and participated in two national-level homeland defense exercises. The AOC’s support reached past the shores of the continental U.S. as it conducted foreign disaster relief operations following the landfall of Hurricane Dorian, a category 5 storm, in the Bahamas. Col. Michael Valle, then 601st AOC commander, and Lt. Col. Steven Kozielecki, 601st AOC Air Mobility Division (AMD) deputy chief, served as the initial cadre for a Joint Air Component Coordination Element (JACCE) during operations. Col. Greg Krane, then 101st AOG commander, Col. Daniel Susich, a 601st AOC Chief of Combat Operations, and Tech. Sgt. Shaun Tyson, a 601st AOC Senior Air Defense Technician, served as the second JACCE crew. The JACCE enabled airlift of relief supplies, including two ambulances, and assisted in the establishment of a temporary hospital. Additionally, the JACCE offloaded 300 cases of Meals Ready to Eat that provided much needed sustenance to 3,600 families.

During the hurricane season, the AOC’s AMD tracked 111 Hurricane Hunter sorties gathering crucial data on four named storms, including Hurricane Dorian. In support of Bahamian relief operations, the AMD synchronized 128 sorties and transported 83 personnel and 40.7 short tons of cargo. Collectively, AMD orchestrated over 315 airlift sorties transporting more than 67 short tons of cargo supporting homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities’ missions.

The AOC’s Combat Information Cell (CIC) conducted its general aviation outreach program supporting 14 presidential travel events, Super Bowl LIII, the State of the Union Address, and the United Nations General Assembly. The aim of the outreach program is to reduce the number of airspace violations during presidential travel and special security events. The CIC teamed up with the Civil Air Patrol to visit 339 Fixed Base Operators and airports to hand-deliver outreach materials to pilots.

In addition, the CIC developed a commercial internet website designed to rapidly disseminate unclassified airspace documents to the general aviation community which proved critical throughout hurricane season.

Each year the AOC participates in two national-level exercises. The first exercise, Ardent Sentry 19, was dedicated to the support of civil authorities operations. The second exercise, Vigilant Shield 20, was focused on the AOC’s homeland defense mission. Both exercises tested the AOC’s ability to conduct crucial command and control planning throughout the country. October 10 marked the one-year anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Michael, the category 5 storm that left much of the Florida Panhandle devastated. While the AOC is back up and running at 100% capacity, many AOC members are still dealing with the aftereffects following the storm. No matter the circumstance, the men and women of America’s AOC stand watch 24-7 to proudly provide the air defense shield of our nation.