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CAOC celebrates two years in operation, prepares for move to new building

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kerry Jackson
  • 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern
After operating in an interim CAOC since August 2004, the Airmen and staff assigned to the Combined Air and Space Operations Center here celebrate their two year anniversary and prepare to move into their newly renovated headquarters building at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in November. 

The 26,750-square-feet facility, costing more than 45 million dollars to renovate, will serve as the command and control hub for 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern. 

"This state-of-the-art facility will provide us with excellent capabilities to more effectively command and control U.S. and coalition air and space power across the globe," said Col. John Marselus, CAOC and 612th Air Operations Group Commander. 

The project took a previous Ground Launched Cruise Missile Facility and transformed it to a world class operational level command and control CAOC. 

"Our interim CAOC is floor space limited. It has just enough work stations to support routine operations, but not surge operations," said Lt. Col. Mike Phillips, 612th Combat Plans Squadron Director of Operations, and former CAOC executive officer. "The new CAOC will give us the capability to surge for major real world contingencies, or to host large CAOC exercises." 

The CAOC staff and other outside agencies were directly involved in designing the facility to meet the center's unique mission. 

"We used the experience of all the individuals on the CAOC team, coupled with the structural designs that worked for other CAOCs, to make this building's design as seamless and efficient as possible," said Colonel Phillips. "We covered every corner to ensure we got this design right the first time." 

The center, which serves as the "jewel" of 12th AF and AFSOUTH, the air and space component to U.S. Southern Command, is the only continuously operational Falconer CAOC in the continental United States. It is one of five Falconer CAOC weapon systems used to support combatant commanders worldwide. The other Falconers are located in Southwest Asia, Europe, Korea and Hawaii. 

DM's CAOC team is made of more than 300 personnel in 15 different career fields. The team is responsible for developing and assessing strategies, plans and operations to successfully employ air, space and information operations for SOUTHCOM in support of the U.S. National Security Strategy. 

Traditionally, CAOCs are physically located near or within their area of responsibility, but the new operating construct and technology allows DM's CAOC to effectively operate thousands of miles away from its AOR in South America. 

Recognizing the growing importance of the CAOC, then-Air Force Chief of Staff (retired) Gen. Michael Ryan designated it as a weapons system in September 2000. 

"The evolution of the Falconer CAOC as a weapons system is a critical technology enabler in advancing our warfighting capability in support of five regional combatant commanders," said Colonel Marselus. "Each of the Falconers provides the joint and combined expertise as the air component on behalf of the combatant commanders." 

The center will electronically link to the other four Falconers around the globe allowing collaboration for cross-AOR operations. In the future, it will also be linked to the Air Force Component Operations Facility at Langley AFB, Va.