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102 AOG participates in Global Thunder exercise 2012

102nd Air Operations Group

102nd Air Operations Group

. -- The 102nd Air Operations Group took part in Global Thunder exercise 2012 which took place at Air Force bases across U.S. Strategic Command and Global Strike Command Oct. 22-31. The primary locations were Offutt AFB, Whiteman AFB and Barksdale AFB.

The 102 AOG had 21 Airmen representatives from all three squadrons: operations, intelligence, and communications. They provided manpower and operational expertise as the exercise's Air Operations Center conducted 24-hour operations. Members worked 12-14 hour shifts alongside their active duty counterparts in strategy, plans, intelligence, operations, and communications/data link support.

The mission of the AOG is to provide highly trained Air Operations Center experts to any combatant command's AOC. In day to day operations it is able to provide the USSTRATCOM commander with real time status of his airborne assets from either location.

Because of its critical mission, this exercise is very important to the 102 AOG as it provides an opportunity for its Airmen to hone their skills and ability to plan, execute, and assess a conventional global strike mission in a time sensitive or contingency operation.

"It was important for a few reasons. First, the AOC command and control mission is relatively hard to simulate without lots of outside agencies providing inputs/feedback," said Maj. David Bennett, 102 AOG standards and evaluations. "So a command-level exercise allows us to actually task organizations and take our planning process from cradle to grave. Second, the 608 AOC at Barksdale is our functionally aligned AOC, so it was important for the 102 AOG to integrate into their operations and help them conduct a large scale exercise that they otherwise wouldn't have the manpower to conduct. Third, it gives us the opportunity to learn more about Global Strike assets and capabilities which improves our ability to understand the mission set.

Overall, the AOG leadership was pleased with their group's representatives and noted the role the 102nd Airmen played in helping the exercise be a success.

"The 102 AOG was singled out for high praise from the Global Strike Joint Forces Air Component Commander, Major General Wilson," Bennett said. "He took note of our experience and the leadership role we played in mentoring a relatively inexperienced active duty AOC. It was noted that the majority of the active duty members were conducting their first exercise while a number of the guardsmen have seen several of these exercises."