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AFNORTH Airmen assist with Haitian relief efforts

1/20/2010 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Air operations experts at Air Forces Northern are assisting 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern with humanitarian aid efforts following the Jan. 12 magnitude 7 earthquake that devastated Haiti.

The 601st Air and Space Operations Center is supporting the 612th Combined Air and Space Operations Center, which is headquartered at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.

The 601st Air Mobility Division has temporarily transformed its Regional Air Movement Control Center, better known as RAMCC, into the Haiti Flight Operations Coordination Center to control the smooth flow of aircraft into the ramp at Port-au-Prince International Airport.

Based on priorities established by the government of Haiti, U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Southern Command, the experts in the HFOCC assign "slot times" to maximize efficient use of the Port-au-Prince International Airport ramp for all inbound and outbound air traffic.

The 612th CAOC and 601st AOC, along with military experts from McGuire AFB, N.J., Travis AFB, Calif., and four Canadian airmen from the 1st Canadian Air Division, are working around the clock to coordinate inbound and outbound military air traffic into Port-au-Prince.

Normally, the 601st AOC is a Title 32, Florida Air National Guard organization, but during catastrophic events such as this, the organization is augmented with a total force integration of active-duty Airmen, reservists and Guardsmen who are collaborating their efforts between respective AOCs and combatant commands.

"The 612th CAOC accepted our offer to help because of our experience in recent hurricane relief efforts and other defense support of civil authorities missions," said Lt. Col. Brad Graff, 601st AMD chief. "Additionally, we're tied into the Federal Aviation Administration's Enhanced Traffic Management System and Air Mobility Command's command and control systems."

The airfield is designated as an aerial port of embarkation and debarkation. The APOEs and APODs serve as temporary major air mobility hubs to respond to the disaster and can also serve as an evacuation point.

A contingency control element on the ground in Port-au-Prince prioritizes humanitarian aid needed and passes that information to the HFOCC.

"HFOCC safely manages the heavy amount of humanitarian airlift that is flooding into Haiti," Colonel Graff said. "The contingency response element helps us manage aircraft time on the ground and parking space on the field. It also helps eliminate overcrowding on the ramp and prevents aircraft from having to wait to land."

"I am proud of the professionalism and cooperative effort that has been demonstrated by all the many governmental, nongovernmental and international agencies and organizations through this tough time," said Maj. Gen. Garry C. Dean, AFNORTH commander. "Since implementation, the HFOCC has increased the capacity of safe arrivals to an average of 100 missions per day in accordance with the daily priorities coordinated by the government of Haiti, USAID and USSOUTHCOM.

"It is critical that we continue to work together with the involved agencies to bring much-needed relief to the Haitian people," the general said.

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