KIRKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
A Western Air Defense Sector air battle manager had an opportunity to expand his Joint Force interoperability knowledge and skills with 11 other Army officers when he attended the Air Defense Artillery Fire Control Officers (ADAFCO), Kirkland Air Force Base, New Mexico, in July 2018.
The ADAFCO is a position that was created during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF 2003) after there were blue on blue (friendly) fratricides. These ADAFCO's are designed to manage multiple battalions of Patriot fire units and protect friendly assets. There was a need to bring the human element back into the decision making process and to decrease the chance of friendly on friendly incidents occurring.
Capt. Jason Allenton, 225th Air Defense Squadron weapons director, welcomed the opportunity to attend this three week course. “This school greatly assists WADS in mission planning, execution and coordination of Army assets in the protection of the homeland,” explained Allenton, who is also a recent graduate of the Navy’s TOPGUN school.
“The course allows for seamless air defense integration with Army ground based air defense assets. Currently we have several Army systems located in the United States. This type of experience provides a common ground and jumping off point for operators working together in mission planning and execution. Individuals who graduate the course mission plan and defense design for future operations optimizing sensor and weapon system placement.”
The graduate level course focused on creating joint force ground based air defense subject matter experts (SME) with a unique ability to communicate with all branches and coordinate surface to air engagements.
The first week of the course was academically based with joint SMEs coming to the school to teach in their respective specialties to include: history of fratricide, Joint Air Operations Center, Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), AWACS, Control and Reporting Center, ADAFCO operations, and system manipulation.
The second week of the course went over specific Army capabilities including the Patriot weapon system employment and design, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), the Navy AEGIS weapon system, and advanced radar systems.
“The final week culminates with an exercise that tests the ADAFCO crew coordination and ability to effectively communicate priorities and engage threats,” explained Allenton.
“Post 9/11 the air defense community realized its need to enhance its joint partnership to defend the United States from any air breathing threats. Currently, operating under Operation Noble Eagle, the NORAD enterprise employs numerous surface to air assets. This type of experience allows me to continue to train and bolster the experience of other operators in the team I work with. This is the reason why our Commanders send our folks to these types of school- to increase knowledge and capabilities so our folks are ready to win against current and future threats.”