102nd Air Operations Group augments 608th Air Operations Center during ‘Global Lightning 2012’

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Martin Richard
  • 102nd Air Operations Group
Seventeen members of the Massachusetts Air National Guard's 102nd Air Operations Group (AOG) recently deployed to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., to augment the 608th Air Operations Center (AOC) during the 2012 Global Lightning Exercise.

This marked the largest personnel package ever sent to Barksdale from Otis Air National Guard Base, Mass., in support of the worldwide, multinational exercise. Typically, 102nd AOG personnel train and support Barksdale with integrated operations from home station.

"We are lucky the people from Otis are here," Maj. Gen. Stephen Wilson, 8th Air Force commander and U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC) for the exercise, said.

Wilson was reacting to the pivotal roles members of the 102nd AOG perform during the week-long, 24/7 exercise.

This year, Global Lightning supported Pacific Command's (PACOM) Terminal Fury Exercise. Terminal Fury is a large force exercise designed to test a Joint Task Force's ability to respond to crisis in the Pacific region. Global Lightning is a subset of the exercise evaluating how Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) provides the theater JFACC global air power for extremely difficult target sets.

"This is the largest Terminal Fury that STRATCOM, the 608th and the 102nd have participated in," Ben Quintana, an Air Force training and evaluation contractor, said.

The 17 Airmen from the 102nd AOG provided expertise for the 608th in the Strategy, Planning, Intelligence and Communications divisions.

"Getting the right mix of expertise and experience to conduct 24-hour operations for extended periods of time is not a simple task," Col. Keith Teister, 608th Strategy Division chief, said. "The 102nd fills the gaps in personnel to keep the operation going 24/7."

This year, the 102nd's leadership role increased as well.

Colonels Frank Aflague and Timothy Estep served as AOC Directors and Lt. Col. Martin Richard with Maj. Lee Dewald were Strategy Team Leaders. The Strategy Division conducts mission analysis and works with the Joint Task Force in theater to provide targeting solutions for the combatant commander. Majors Dave Burns and Mike Drake augmented the Strategy Division in the Mission Analysis Cell.

Lieutenant Colonel Joe McGrady, Maj. Chip Blake and Capt. Greg Gibson served as Plans Division Team Leaders. The Plans division does the "nuts and bolts" planning of each global power mission and the support assets required to make the mission successful.

"The 102nd is critical to our ability to provide command and control for the global power forces, and they bring an expertise in tactical air power we simply don't have," said Col. Mike Tichenor, 608th AOC commander.

The 102nd also sent Maj. Cam Macomber along with Senior Master Sergeants Elisa Overton and Matt Jackson to fill shortfalls in 608th Intelligence manning.

Captain Kristen Moulis, Senior Master Sgt. Sharon Rich and Senior Airman Nate Antonio deployed in support roles as liaisons between the 102nd, 608th and AFGSC. Technical Sergeant Cory Fonger augmented the 608th Communications and provided expertise on the myriad of software and hardware resources essential to the exercise team.

The exercise scenario for Global Lightning 2012 presented several crisis action planning and time sensitive planning problem sets never seen before in Terminal Fury.

"The 102nd team was amazing as usual; always ready to step up and get the job done," Col. David Lange, 608th AOC deputy commander, said.

"The team from Otis hits the ground running and steps in without missing a beat! The relationship we've built over the past three years is the model for Total Force Integration," Tichenor said.