Wednesday, August 28, 2013

March Reserve squadron supporting Korea exercise

by Capt. Joe Simms
940th Wing Public Affairs

8/27/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- More than 75 members of the 701st Combat Operations Squadron from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., are here supporting Ulchi Freedom Guardian that began Aug. 26.

UFG is an annual defense-oriented exercise developed around scenarios designed to defend the Republic of Korea, protect the region, and maintain stability on the peninsula.

Established in 1995, the one-of-a-kind 701st COS supports 7th Air Force, the U.S. Air Force component to the U.S. and Republic of Korea Combined Forces Command's Air Component Command for exercises such as UFG and Key Resolve.

Maj. Eric Chancellor, 701st COS Mission Support Flight commander, has been with the squadron for seven years and understands the worldwide impact of their mission.

"All of our training is designed to support exercises such as Key Resolve and UFG," said Chancellor. "This is our mission, to support the AOC mission for 7 AF and the Korean Peninsula. We come here, we train, and we take it seriously."

During UFG, the 701st augments the air operations center and its primary goal of  creating and executing air tasking orders.

Every day, once the ATO is finalized, it is funneled down to Airmen from different specialties working alongside their ROK counterparts in the hardened tactical air control center, commonly referred to as the "war room."

Maj. Malia Sharkey, 701st Combat Airspace Management, and Capt. Juan Benavides, 607th Air Operations Center, along with their ROK counterpart, use the ATO as a guide to monitor airborne assets during the exercise.

"Our job is to monitor the airspace on the Korean Peninsula and all coalition missions being flown in the theater," said Sharkey. "We work closely with the ROK so they see what we see and vice versa."

"During the exercise, it's important that we are working together and learning from the South Koreans, as well as them learning from us," Chancellor explained. "We work hand in hand with our South Korean counterparts with the goal of helping them understand how we do business and improving their processes."

Chancellor and Sharkey are two of more than 3,000 augmentees from U.S. and bases in the Pacific region participating in UFG, along with military forces from seven United Nation's Command member state including Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Augmenting an AOC mission requires the 701st to behave like a wing within itself with representatives from more than 60 Air Force Specialty Codes represented.

"We are unique, we're diverse, and I think that helps us do our mission," Chancellor said. "Many sections are one or two people deep, so we rely on each other to get the job done."

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