727th EACS takes control of new mission
by 1st Lt. Victoria B. Porto
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
1/9/2012 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- The 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron changed missions Dec. 30 as it supported the end of Operation New Dawn and began supporting the air defense of the Arabian Gulf.
The timing of the transition allowed for a full-circle moment for members of the 727th EACS, who are deployed from the 606th ACS at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
"It was an honor for our squadron to close out Operation New Dawn because the 606th ACS was the first air control squadron on station in Iraq," said Lt. Col Justin Hickman, the 727th EACS commander.
The 727th EACS provides command and control capabilities through real-time radar surveillance that allows Airmen to coordinate the movement of aircraft in their battlespace.
Turning their focus to the Arabian Gulf, the Airmen will continue to provide surveillance and tactical command and control to deconflict the flight paths of various air assets in the region and protect troops on the ground, just as they did while supporting the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.
"We're here to execute the air tasking order and to make sure our assets and our host nation partners are safe," said Capt. Lynn Senior, a 727th EACS air surveillance officer.
Staff Sgt. Sarah Hanby, a 727th EACS weapons director, emphasized the importance of their new mission.
"We know it's important to have our eyes out there to support this entire region," she said. "We keep people safe; we give them a sense of security by watching from overhead."
But members of the 727th EACS can't do the mission alone. They work closely with the airborne warning and control system Airmen stationed at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing as well as the Soldiers from the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade who monitor the sky and man the Patriot batteries in defense of the region.
"They are outstanding teammates and they've set us up for success," Hickman said of the daily efforts between the units to efficiently control the air space.
And as their rotation comes to an end, the Airmen of the 606th ACS will pass the reins to the 123rd ACS from the Ohio Air National Guard; the same "sister squadron" based with them in Iraq in 2003.
"I am very proud of my Airmen and I want to thank all the Airmen of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing that have helped us transition from Iraq to our new mission," Hickman said.
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