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Col. Michael Valle - Commander, 101st AOG
Command Chief Master Sgt.Tiffiney Kellum - CCMSgt, 101st AOG

Year in Review 2016

Defending America’s skies is an around-the-clock, no-fail mission. This task is carried out by the men and women of the 101st Air and Space Operations Group (AOG), providing the primary manpower to the 601st Air Operations Center (AOC). Their North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) mission is to provide the air defense shield for the continental United States, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Often referred to as “America’s AOC,” the AOC plans, directs and assesses air operations for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). Additionally, the AOC provides aerial operations support, when requested, to civil authorities throughout the nation after natural or man-made disasters, and conducts theater security operations.

This year, the AOC provided air defense for a multitude of special security events throughout the country, assisted civil authorities during busy wildfire and hurricane seasons, participated in two national-level exercises, and excelled in a week-long mission readiness inspection. In addition to providing the air defense shield during presidential travel events throughout the continental United States, the AOC supported four different special security events – the United Nations General Assembly, the Papal visit, the State of the Union Address, and Super Bowl 50.

Throughout the summer months, the AOC stood ready to assist local authorities with wildfire season. The AOC’s Air Mobility Division (AMD) oversaw the Modular Airborne Fire-Fighting System (MAFFS)- equipped C-130 aircraft units that provide this support. During the 2015 wildfire season, the MAFFS Air Expeditionary Group conducted 381 sorties and dispersed more than 840,000 gallons of fire retardant to combat the fires.

Additionally, the AMD oversaw 66 Hurricane Hunter missions gathering crucial data on 10 named storms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center used that information to issue timely and accurate watches, warnings, forecasts and analyses of hazardous tropical weather.

The AOC also participated in two national-level exercises. Both exercises tested the Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR) and the AOC’s abilities to conduct crucial command and control planning throughout the country. During ARDENT SENTRY 16, CONR and the AOC provided air operations support such as search and rescue, damage imagery assessment, and airspace management to local authorities in Washington, Oregon and Idaho as they dealt with a notional 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

In January 2016, CONR and the AOC received an overall rating of “Mission Ready,” the highest achievable rating, during their 2016 Regional Alert Force Evaluation. NORAD/USNORTHCOM inspectors lauded nine superior performers and three best practices from the AOC. It is with great pride that the men and women of the 101st AOG and 601st AOC provide the air defense shield for the nation. Ever vigilant, ever on-guard, America’s AOC stands watch 24-7, 365 defending America’s skies.