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Joint airspace conference takes place in Iraq

by Staff Sgt. Tim Beckham
U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs

6/4/2009 - CAMP VICTORY, Iraq (AFNS) -- Members of the Multinational Corps-Iraq held an Airspace Interoperability Synchronization Conference in an attempt to better use the airspace over Iraq here May 30.

As members of the MNC-I joint fires and effects cell, air and missile defense team servicemembers are responsible for executing, in concert with other entities, airspace command and control as well as air and missile defense within the Iraq theater of operations.

In addition, the joint fires and effects cell, air and missile defense cell is the nerve center for all Army air and missile defense data link communications in Iraq. Its coordination and integration with the Air Force Control and Reporting Center at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, the Marine Tactical Air Operations Center at Al Assad, Iraq, and theater air defense airspace management systems is critical for successful airspace management and deconfliction. With that kind of responsibility the subject matter experts in the different airspace career fields decided to have a face-to-face conference to discuss and assess the current procedures and determine how to conduct operations more smoothly.

"It's not very often that you have an opportunity to bring all these different players together and it's important because we have been over here for quite a few years now and this gives us the opportunity to really gage where we are in airspace command and control and air and missile defense and find ways to make our processes more efficient and more effective," said Army Lt. Col. James Houlahan, the MNC-I air and missile defense cell chief. Colonel Houlahan is deployed from Fort Lewis, Wash., and is a native of El Paso, Texas.

The goal for the two-day conference was to continue to improve joint tactics, techniques and procedures while fostering and encouraging teamwork among the services, and developing personal relationships focused on integrating assets and capabilities to form strong joint alliances.

"Nothing substitutes being able to sit at a table and being able to trade ideas with the other people who are doing the same job you are doing on a daily basis," said Maj. Richard Ramsey, a joint interface control officer at the CAOC. "Ultimately this will make things run even more efficiently out there in the theater."

After the conference, participants can go back and look at the topics and solutions from the gathering and will be able to use the lessons learned in other commands and theaters.

"This is one of the two major conflicts we are involved in right now and everything we do can be used in Afghanistan and any place else and can eventually become the benchmark for how we coordinate airspace jointly anywhere else," said Major Ramsey, who is deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and is a native of Joliet, Ill.

During the conferences closing remarks, Army Brig. Gen. Heidi V. Brown, the MNC-I deputy commander for sustainment talked about the importance of conferences like this and eluded to its importance with the eventual draw down of forces in Iraq.

"I think it's really important for us to continue to come together and really get after a single integrated air picture especially with the eventual draw down," said the general, who is deployed from Fort Lewis and is a native of El Paso.

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