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Ops center commands sky during Exercise Valiant Shield

by Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo
Air Force News Agency

8/9/2007 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines are working together in the 613th Air and Space Operations Center here and within the airspace around Guam to enhance joint combat skills and interoperability during Exercise Valiant Shield 2007 held Aug. 6 to 13.

The week-long exercise tests the military's ability to rapidly consolidate joint forces in response to regional contingencies, and involves approximately 22,000 troops, 30 ships and some 275 aircraft.

As the joint forces air component command and control center for Valiant Shield, the 613th AOC is where all the exercise's air assets get their orders.

"Our job is to manage the air portion of the war, from planning it, to monitoring it, to executing it and then determining whether we've done what we want to do: assessing that mission," said Lt. Col. Mark Jones, the Valiant Shield air defense officer with the 613th AOC.

In today's military, each service component has to be willing and able to work with its sister services. Continually changing technologies and small differences in how the joint services operate are the biggest obstacles to overcome in the 613th AOC.

"I think, like everyone, we've got issues to tackle, we are tackling those through this process," Colonel Jones said. "My summary would be that we do it excellently, but there are challenges to be met, there's changing technology, and we're working to meet that day in and day out."

"This is premium training for the Reserve and for the Navy to involve with the Air Force and the other joint players, so that we can learn and practice our business," said Navy Capt. Russ Penniman.

Command and control of the overall operation rests with Joint Task Force 519, the U.S. Pacific Command's only four-star led joint task force capable of conducting contingency operations ranging form small scale operations to major theater conflict anywhere in the Pacific.

A major focus of the Valiant Shield is joint operations. Lt. Gen. Loyd S. Utterback, the 13th Air Force commander, serves as the joint forces air component commander for Valiant Shield with Navy Rear Adm. Mark T. Emerson, commander of the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, as his deputy.

"He and I are joined at the hip as a joint warfighting team that works together habitually for the controlling of joint airpower," General Utterback said. "Valiant Shield 07 is a joint effort led by the Air Force."

The Valiant Shield series of exercises focuses on integrated joint training among U.S. military forces and enable real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces and in detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas.

This is the second year the United States has conducted Valiant Shield. The first Valiant Shield was conducted in June 2006.

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