102nd AOG deploys for Operation Odyssey Dawn, Operation Unified Protector

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Martin Richard
  • 102nd Air Operations Group
Two years of exercises and training between the 608th Air Operations Center (AOC) and the 102d Air Operations Group (AOG) were put to the test recently when members of the 102d deployed to Barksdale Air Force Base, L.A., in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn and Operation Unified Protector. A major mission set of the 608th is Global Strike Time Sensitive Planning (TSP), and in the early days of these operations, several real-world TSP "events" resulted in the need for additional on-site manpower and expertise at Barksdale. "We have been practicing for the real thing for a long time and when the call came from the 608th, we were ready," said 101 AOS Commander Colonel Tim "Heater" Estep.

The 608th Air and Space Operations Center plans, directs, and assesses daily operations employing global, kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities in order to deliver strategic effects for the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Commander and other theater commanders. The 102d AOG supports and augments the 608th with personnel and tactical capability through direct and distributed means.

While the details of the TSP tasking are still highly classified, members of the 102d led the "Mission Analysis" strategic planning cell and also augmented the "Courses of Action" planning cell. Captain Christian Leighton provided intelligence analysis support to the 608th. Lt. Col. Martin "Opus" Richard and Lt. Col. Gary "Lips" Cundiff led the Mission Analysis team and provided background information, tactical planning considerations, and mission objective guidance so several Courses of Action (COA) could be developed. Lt. Col. Vaughn "El J" Littlejohn augmented the COA Development team providing planning, weapons, and tactical expertise for potential Global Strike missions. Col. Estep and Col. Frank "Rudy" Aflague served as Deputy Directors overseeing the entire TSP effort.

"The 102d enabled us to meet our mission tasking by stepping up to the plate and doing anything we asked of them," said Col Mike Tichenor, commander of the 608th. Col. Keith Tiester, Chief of the Strategy Division, said, "We have complete confidence in the 102d. The work they did here was simply amazing."

As Col. Frank "Rudy" Aflague said, "It was rewarding to be a part of the first real-world combat deployment for the 102d AOG." Ultimately, the Courses of Action developed by the Otis team were briefed at the highest levels of command authority and refined to assure mission success in the Libyan AOR. Col. Rich Sweeten, 102d AOG commander, added, "This is the perfect example of why this new guard C2 mission is important to the active duty Air Force. Most AOCs do not need a fully manned operations center during normal peacetime, day to day, operations. But when a contingency operation like Odyssey Dawn requires action, the guard can step in with highly trained AOC augmentees and either deploy to the site or support the effort through reach back or integrated ops from home station. The 102d AOG proved that the model works."

The 102d will deploy back to Barksdale at the end of April to support Operation Global Lightning / Austere Challenge. The unit will also participate in planning and execution for the exercise with a team at Otis through their innovative distributed operations process.