101st Air and Space Operations Group stands up at Tyndall Published Sept. 2, 2010 By Capt. Jared Scott 601st AOC Public Affairs TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 601st Air and Space Operations Center here held a ceremony Aug. 21 to commemorate the activation of the 101st Air and Space Operations Group. The 101st AOG, which is a Florida Air National Guard unit, provides the manning for the 601st AOC to fulfill their mission of defending the homeland. The 101st AOG, formerly known as the Southeast Air Defense Sector, officially stood up July 1, 2009. "The 601st AOC and the 101st AOG have a no-fail mission," said Col. Scott Barberides, 101st AOG commander. "Around the clock, 24-7, we never turn the lights off, and people are working right now defending our skies." The 601st AOC, often referred to as America's AOC, is responsible for detecting, deterring, defending and if necessary, defeating any aviation threat to the citizens of the United States and to U.S. critical infrastructure. "The 601st is made up roughly of 550 people, with 350 of those folks being 101st AOG members," said Col. Randy Spear, 601st AOC commander. "If the 601st were a car, the 101st would be the engine and the drive train that makes the 601st AOC mission happen." Saturday's ceremony was presided over by Brig. Gen. Joseph Balskus, Florida's Assistant Adjutant General and Florida Air National Guard commander. The ceremony was complete with the changing of the flags representing the unit's transition from the Southeast Air Defense Sector to the 101st AOG. After the ceremony friends and family were invited to take a tour of the center's operations floor, which monitors all the air traffic in the continental United States. "It started after Sept.11, 2001," said Colonel Spear. "We, as the Department of Defense, had to reconfigure ourselves, and a part of that reconfiguration was to transform the Southeast Air Defense Sector into the 101st AOG." The Southeast Air Defense Sector was originally established as the Montgomery Air Defense Sector in September 1957. Effective Oct. 16, 1995, SEADS transitioned from the U.S. Air Force to the Air National Guard, and became a Geographically Separated Unit assigned within the Florida Air National Guard. The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 marked a change in the way SEADS, North American Aerospace Defense Command, and United States Northern Command monitored air traffic in the continental United States. Prior to 9/11, NORAD had only monitored air traffic entering CONUS airspace. After 9/11, NORAD, along with the Federal Aviation Administration, started to monitor all the air traffic in CONUS airspace. Operation Noble Eagle, the military's response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, became the focus of SEADS, NORAD and USNORTHCOM, ensuring the safety of America. SEADS' mission was relocated to the Eastern Air Defense Sector in November of 2006 and it took on a new role. Now known as the 601st Air and Space Operations Center, the AOC monitors all the air traffic in the continental U.S. region. On June 1, 2007, the 601st AOC opened the doors on its brand new, state-of-the-art, 37,000 square-foot, $30.5 million air and space operations center. This new facility enhances the 601st AOC's ability to protect America's skies from attack, as well as provide lifesaving relief during natural and man-made disasters. "We have a proud heritage with the state of Florida, and a noble past with the Southeast Air Defense Sector," said Colonel Barberides. "That truly is the heart and soul of the 101st AOG." For more information on America's AOC, visit www.1af.acc.af.mil, www.facebook.com/americasaoc, www.twitter.com/1staf or www.youtube.com/americasaoc.