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Tue, Feb 10, 2004

New Joint Air Defense Operations Center At Bolling AFB

Center Part Of Operation Noble Eagle

Civilian and military dignitaries cut the ribbon to officially open a modern operations center that monitors the heavily traveled skies around the nation's capital Feb. 3.

The Joint Air Defense Operations Center, called "JADOC" for short, is staffed around the clock at Bolling by Air Force and Army National Guard personnel to watch for potentially dangerous aircraft such as the hijacked jetliner that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

The new compact facility is another sign Operation Noble Eagle and other efforts to defend the nation during the global war on terrorism will be around for a long time.

The operations center is the heart of a sophisticated air-defense system that incorporates jet fighters and air-defense artillery units on constant alert around the Washington area.

Dr. Jan Brecht-Clark, director for transportation and aviation security with the White House Homeland Security Council; Air National Guard Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley, commander of the 1st Air Force based at Tyndall AFB, (FL); and New Mexico Army Guard Brig. Gen. Jamie Fletcher cut a ceremonial red, white, blue and yellow ribbon to demonstrate that the center is helping to defend America and that many people are serving far from their homes.

A tenant organization on Bolling, the center has actually been functioning since Dec. 15, officials explained, when it replaced the tents in which the center was originally installed after the terrorist attacks. The Washington JADOC has been operating around the clock since Feb. 8, 2003.

"We know that the real work is now being done in a facility that has a dry floor and heat and air conditioning and a roof that doesn't leak. And that's not the way that the JADOC has always worked," observed Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

He paid tribute in his remarks to the many civilian agencies, including the Secret Service, and U.S. and Canadian military organizations that have joined forces to safeguard the North American continent from further terrorist attacks.

"We will never forget it. We are not going to let it happen again," vowed General McKinley, who oversees air-defense activities for the entire country.

"Turf and who's in charge did not get in the way. The mission was what came first, and you have accomplished the mission," General Blum said. "I think we're reaping the benefits of that every single day that we don't have an aviation event in which we have to use you."

General Fletcher, who commands the 111th Air Defense Artillery Brigade based in Albuquerque, has rotated about 500 citizen-soldiers through the JADOC since March 2003 when that Army Guard outfit assumed the mission from the 32nd Army Air Missile Defense Command.

"The year has gone by very quickly," said General Fletcher, who has also served as the area's deputy air-defense commander. "We've been very fortunate in the way this system has been set up so we could execute the mission."

Members of the New Mexico brigade have been supported by members of the Mississippi Army Guard, and the Georgia and Puerto Rico Air National Guards.

The New Mexico brigade will turn over their part of the Washington area's air-defense mission to the Florida Army Guard Feb. 10.

"This is probably the most complex and sensitive mission that an air defender could conduct, whether in the air or on the ground," General Blum pointed out. "I'm immensely proud that the National Guard has had such a big part."

ANN extends a special thanks to the author of this story, USAF Master Sgt. Bob Haskell, National Guard Bureau.



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