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Behind the bombers: 608th AOC hones control during Global Thunder

  • Published
  • By Justin Oakes
  • 8th Air Force/J-GSOC Public Affairs

There was no shortage of bombers in the sky last week as Air Force Global Strike Command forces were in full effect, exercising their global reach and mass generation capabilities during U.S. Strategic Command’s Global Thunder exercise.

However, “bombers don’t simply manifest themselves and come equipped with the appropriate weaponry to address any issue,” said James Morriss, 8th Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center director of staff. “It begins and ends with the 608th Air Operations Center. Proper preparation, command and control, monitoring, plan adaptation and constant activity assessment all take place within the center. The 608th AOC is essentially a bomber nucleus.”

When the need for bombers arise, a strategy is required. And Global Thunder was no exception.

It is the Strategy Division within the AOC that is responsible for developing the overall strategy for the air component with regards to a conventional scheme of maneuver for the Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC). Also within the division is the information operations team that factor in info-related capabilities into the plan, and the ops assessment team who make recommendations on force presentation and analysis of plan expectations based on the operational environment.

“When developing a strategy, we work closely with the other elements within the AOC and our partners,” said William Parker, Strategy Division deputy chief. “Operations, Logistics, the Combat Plans Division (CPD), the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division (ISRD), other geographic AOCs and STRATCOM all coordinate on the effort.”

Once the JFACC’s intent is known and a strategy established, the CPD team begins constructing possible options for the commander.

“Our job is to create routes and rapid response options that align with leadership’s objectives,” said Maj. Joseph Prohaska, a CPD master air attack planner. “We work closely with intel for threat assessments and munition shops to facilitate different responses. Other considerations include air refueling positions and acceptable landing locations. We want to ensure what we are producing and what we present match the strategic guidance.”

While plans are in development, the ISRD team feeds relevant threat analysis and intention as well as targeting options to the planners.

“Almost immediately we need to be producing accurate information to the JFACC,” said Master Sgt. Felix Rosario, ISRD’s Analysis Correlations and Fusion ops superintendent. “ISRD identifies the situation, who the adversaries are, determines how it is happening and if these threats affect our bomber forces and assets.”

ISRD members communicate with the Combat Operations Division (COD) for real time relay.

When asked what large-scale exercises like Global Thunder reveal, Rosario emphasized the intricacies and importance of communication.

“Seeing the speed and accuracy of how the information flowed was impressive,” said Rosario. “Information flowed from the combatant commands through the AOC to the wings and squadrons and then back up the chain. When something is time sensitive, people come together with their different disciplines and create options to address the immediate need.”

Once the JFACC choses a course of action the plan is then handed to the COD for execution.

“We’re monitoring everything from takeoff to landing for the duration of the mission,” said Senior Airman Phillip Jackson, a COD offensive duty technician. “Any information we don’t have, we are expected to acquire quickly and relay to leadership.”

The COD consists of a variety of people to include a joint interface control cell, tactical data link manager, weather experts, and survival, evasion, resistance and escape personnel.

“I’m very proud how our team effectively and efficiently came together,” said Col. David Donatelli, 608th AOC commander. “Global Thunder proved that our bomber command and control Airmen remain both ready and a reliable strategic deterrence force.”