Col. Matthew Jones
- Commander, 101st AOG
Chief Master Sgt. Karrie Bennett
- Command Chief Master Sergeant, 101st AOG
Year in Review - 2021
This year continued to test the resolve of the men and women of the 601st Air Operations Center and 101st Air and Space Operations Group. The AOC’s mission never ceased, even as it faced the ongoing burden of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recovery and modernization projects throughout the AOC compound due to Hurricane Michael. The no-fail mission continued with excellence, and the AOC oversaw aerial operations for homeland disaster relief, conducted multiple bi-national exercises, and supported several national special security events.
The AOC's Air Mobility Division (AMD) demonstrated its ability to oversee, plan and support interagency partners during multiple homeland disaster and defense missions, including the dispersion of 2.6 million gallons of fire retardant from Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped C-130s over the western U.S. The AMD also enabled the rapid deployment of National Guard members for Operation Capitol Response, and subsequently planned the transport of more than 7,000 National Guard Airmen and Soldiers over four days for the 59th Presidential Inauguration.
Additionally, in support of the Department of State, AMD oversaw more than 350 missions, resulting in the reconstitution of 70,000 American citizens and Afghan refugees following the withdrawal from Afghanistan during Operations Allied Refuge and Allied Welcome.
Overall, AMD planned over 600 tanker missions that supported more than 1,100 aerial refuelings and offloaded more than 11.6 million pounds of fuel for the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Continental U.S. Region, Alaskan Region, and the Canadian Region in direct support of the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense and the bi-national agreement between the U.S. and Canada.
Throughout 2021, the AOC’s Combat Information Cell (CIC) saw a significant increase in VIP flight restrictions. Due to the diligence shown in its outreach program and the creation of a new Temporary Flight Restriction database, the CIC increased outreach operations by 38 percent last year. The CIC conducted its General Aviation outreach program, in conjunction with Civil Air Patrol, and visited 93 Fixed Base Operators and airports to hand-deliver outreach materials to pilots. The unit also supported 33 VIP travel events and five national special security events, including the Presidential Inauguration, Super Bowl LV, two manned space launches, and the United Nations General Assembly.
The Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR) and the AOC planners shaped NORAD's theater-wide 3310-21 Contingency Plan, detailing NORAD's defense design for North America. Furthermore, our planners and public affairs team played an integral role in the planning and execution of two Arctic air defense exercises. These exercises demonstrated NORAD’s ability to reach and defend the high Arctic against aerospace threats.
Similarly, the AOC planned and executed Operation Noble Defender, demonstrating CONR's readiness capabilities to simultaneously defend the east and west coast of the United States against increased military activity from our near-peer competitors.
The Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division (ISRD) provided 24/7/365 Indications and Warning of violent extremist and near-peer threats. The ISRD professionals bolstered U.S. Northern Command’s theater ISR plans, targeting concepts of operations, and supported Air Combat Command’s initiative to enhance machine-based learning and artificial intelligence for the warfighter.
The AOC training team, paired with the CONR Deputy Commander, refined the Combined Forces Air Component Commander’s (CFACC’s) training program and developed a "near-peer" intercept tabletop exercise and Falcon Gain Simulation. Their efforts bolstered the training and readiness of our CFACCs and Chief Combat Officers (CCOs) while honing our skills against peacetime near-peer air defense operations.
In mid-May, the AOC completed Exercise Blue Flag 21, a week-long exercise focused on refining processes to defend North America against cyber, cruise missiles, and other air, space and cyber domain threats. Members of the AOC performed the full range of aerospace warning and control measures, including developing plans to transition from a peacetime posture to wartime operations.
The 101st Air Communications Squadron (ACOMS), supporting both 1st Air Force and AOC, commenced the modernization of the AOC’s operations floor, ensuring security separation of emissions from classified and unclassified networks. This hardening of the network was a critical component of Blue Flag 21. During Blue Flag, ACOMS achieved the first-ever 'live' cyberspace training objectives for Air Forces Northern and AOC personnel on the Air Combat Command secured virtual network. This achievement assured the secure virtual network availability for real-world operations while simultaneously supporting exercise simulation events on the network.
Without blinking an eye on homeland defense, 38 Drill Status Guardsmen deployed across the state for more than 164 days. Our DSGs performed more than 57,000 COVID tests and helped administer over 600,000 COVID vaccines to Florida residents. Their selflessness and service to Florida exemplify what is means to be a Citizen-Airman! Rest assured that America's AOC 'has the watch' as the men and women of AOC execute their no-fail mission and proudly stand watch 24-7 to provide the air defense shield for our nation.