116th ACS Demonstrates Integration into the Nation’s Homeland Defense Design

  • Published
  • By Mr. Steven Conklin
  • 116th Air Control Squadron

The 116th Air Control Squadron (ACS) demonstrated the control and reporting center’s (CRC) ability to integrate capabilities into the homeland defense design this February for the first time since 2006.

The ACS proactively coordinated this effort with the Western Air Defense Sector (WADS) and the 225th Air Defense and Support Squadrons.

“It was important for the Air National Guard CRC community to demonstrate radio and RADAR integration now, prior to any future real-world tasking to ensure we have the connective tissue for when our nation calls us to defend the homeland,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Rhodes, Director of Operations at the 116th ACS.

The 116th ACS is an Oregon Air National Guard unit stationed at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Oregon that provides command and control (C2) as well as communications capabilities to the Department of Defense. These capabilities essentially allow the ACS to paint an aerial battle map for the joint force. The squadron’s CRC consists of a deployable RADAR and an air battle manager element to allow tactical command and control.

The Air National Guard has multiple control and reporting centers across the U.S., all of which can provide expeditionary, transportable, command and control to global combatant commanders and the North American Aerospace Defense Command when tasked.

“It is a forgone conclusion that in the event of America’s worst day, the Joint Force will need CRCs deployed forward as well as in the homeland to defend against any threat.” said Rhodes.

For the demonstration, the 116th ACS hosted Capt. Brett Cox and three other members of the 225th Air Defense and Support Squadrons with WADS, to discuss radio and RADAR integration.

Together the members identified radio integration requirements and developed a technical solution on-site. Multiple solutions existed but the most feasible, and cost-effective solution for WADS to employ CRC radios was utilizing commercial-off-the-shelf parts that will cost under $20.

“The integration solution to our transportable radio shelter will increase CRC equipment adaptability, enabling it to seamlessly act as an extension or replacement of similar components in the current WADS infrastructure.” Said Tech. Sgt. Stacie McEwan, 116th ACS radio frequency operations craftsman.

The 225th ADS and SPTS fall under the Western Air Defense Sector and are responsible for maintaining NORAD air sovereignty and aerospace control over 73% of the Western Air Defense.

“The 116th ACS and Cox’s team are leaning forward to ensure that the Air National Guard is ready to defend the homeland from the full spectrum of threats we may face now and in the future,” said Lt. Col. Peter Hickman, 225th Air Defense Squadron Commander. “We can’t wait for future crises to occur; now is our chance to build readiness, maintain deterrence, and prevent future crises from arising in the first place.”

The last time a CRC integrated into the homeland defense design was to support Operation Noble Eagle in 2006 during the U.S. Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In 2002, the 116th ACS was mobilized and deployed for one year to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to support air defense of then U.S. Vice President Dick Cheyney. While CRC integration has not been demonstrated again until now, the 116th ACS and ANG CRC community has continued to provide a crucial role in USCENTCOM operations over the last 20 years, providing air control and air surveillance.

“The CRC community has been challenged to relook at scope and scale of command and control capabilities in order to support Air Force modernization efforts,” said Tech Sgt Soriah Curtis, the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Weapons and Tactics for the 116th ACS. “The C2 community is known for adapting to a variety of mission sets and environments. I’m proud of how our unit and others have responded to the challenge.”