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AFNORTH, AOC participate in Operation Exodus

  • Published
  • By Leslie Brown
  • CONR Public Affairs
When a major hurricane barrels down the Gulf Coast, military installations in its path must prepare to temporarily relocate aircraft and shut down local operations, but it's not often an entire mission relocates.

But that's just what happened when more than 100 people departed Tyndall Air Force Base and set up an Air Operations Center and AFFOR staff Crisis Action Team May 13 as part of Operation Exodus.

During the 24-plus hour relocation, exercise participants practiced CONR-1AF's ability to operate from an alternate location if a hurricane hit the local area.

The operation took members of Air Forces Northern and the 601st Air and Space Operations Center to an off-site location to test a seamless transfer of operational control. AFNORTH and the 601st AOC participated in Operation Exodus as part of Tyndall's hurricane response exercise, Crown Royal. Practicing its ability to relocate allowed both units to demonstrate they can provide a rapid, robust, initial response capability to support civil authorities during a catastrophic incident and provide command and control for a homeland-defense scenario.

As part of the scenario, 1st AF activated its Emergency Response Plan and moved to an alternate location to continue its mission while Tyndall Air Force Base nominally experienced a direct-hit or near-hit major hurricane. A major hurricane is classified as a Category 3 or higher storm.

While specific locations cannot be discussed, the staff deployed to an installation with full support capabilities allowing the mission handover from Tyndall to the alternate location to happen seamlessly.

"We will stand up the CAT and AOC and run operations during a shift change," Col. Van Wimmer, Director of Operations (A3), said. "A couple of years ago we did this, but we didn't do a full-up operation. This time as part of our objective we are going to test that."

While relocated, the AFFOR staff and the 601st AOC conducted operations to support Operation Noble Eagle and Defense Support to Civil Authorities missions. During any natural disaster in the United States, CONR must maintain its ability to continue operations uninterrupted. This is essential to ensure support to citizens during times of crisis.

Once in place, the Operation Exodus team took control from Tyndall and completed an Operation Nobel Eagle exercise mission and a simulated DSCA support request.

When the event was over and the team returned to Tyndall, they conducted a hot wash to make sure any problems encountered were taken care of.

"There were 85 observations that came to us," said Tony Senterfitt, Lessons Learned Program Manager in the Exercises, Assessments and Lessons Learned Directorate (A9). "And many of those actions have already been taken on. Some of them have already been resolved."

While the exercise was deemed a success, another one is being planned for the near future.

"I was extremely pleased with the dedication to mission success from everyone supporting the exercise, both at home and deployed" said BGen Alain Pelletier! CONR Deputy Commander. On the next iteration, I want to push the envelope further and extend the exercise objectives to fully test our ability to remotely support DSCA operations during a Hurricane as well as reconstitution post disaster. In the mean time, we need to quickly act on elements reported during the exercise in order to be fully ready for the start of the Hurricane Season, with the hope that the next relocation will, once again, only be an exercise! "