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Noble Eagle: Reservists contribute to round-the-clock watch of North American skies.


Since shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, Air Force fighter aircraft have flown more than 51,500 sorties over the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii in support of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to help provide a safe and secure nation.


The Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, known as CONR, is responsible for a large percentage of these Operation Noble Eagle missions and represents a substantial contribution to homeland air defense. Occupying key positions on the CONR team, serving air expeditionary force rotations to help maintain a round-the-clock watch of North American skies, are members of the Air Force Reserve.

Col. Vince Mancuso recently deployed on an AEF rotation to serve as a chief of combat operations at the 601st Air and Space Operations Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Colonel Mancuso is assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as the mobilization assistant to the operations director and is also a pilot for a major international airline.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to be entrusted with this air defense responsibility," Colonel Mancuso said. "However, I must admit, as a newly qualified chief of combat operations, it's a bit daunting every time I settle into my duty station and see the massive wall of display screens showing the status of our nation's air defense alert assets that are ready to immediately respond to our call. The numerous hotlines to our nation's defense leaders also serve as a reminder of the role we play in preserving U.S. sovereignty and national security."

Maj. Gen. Hank Morrow, CONR commander, said the AOC combat operations team is a shining example of the Total Force in action.

"The AOC team includes professionals from every branch of the U.S. armed forces, and our air reserve component members serving on AEF rotations are an integral part of this team," General Morrow said. "The AOC is responsible for establishing operational control assigning missions, and coordinating all air and space assets in the continental United States."

The senior operations duty officer is another key AOC position regularly manned by AFRC members on AEF rotations. Sitting immediately to the right of the chief of combat operations, the SODO coordinates all the operational aspects of the AOC air defense response.

"We apply our operational and tactical fighter experience to coordinate with key personnel on the AOC staff as well as our frontline air defense alert teams," said Maj. Jim Kline, a Reservist currently on an AEF deployment to Tyndall AFB. "We serve as a conduit between the CCO and the air defense teams to ensure the flow of relevant information."

Major Kline is assigned to the 97th Flying Training Squadron at Sheppard AFB, Texas, where he serves as a T-38 instructor pilot.

The 601st AOC is responsible for detecting, deterring, defending and, if necessary, defeating any aviation threat to the citizens of the United States and U.S. critical infrastructure.

"Participating in this AEF deployment in support of Operation Noble Eagle has been a very gratifying career experience," Colonel Mancuso said. "All the AFRC members deployed here are making a significant contribution to an important national security mission."

(First Lt. Andrew J. Scott, public affairs officer for the 601st Air and Space Operations Center at Tyndall AFB, contributed to this article.)
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Author:Scott, Andrew J.
Publication:Citizen Airman
Date:Apr 1, 2009
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