NEWS | Feb. 27, 2017

PACAF, U.S. Navy Conduct Joint Interoperability Training

By Lt. Col. Christopher Collins 613th Air Operations Center

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- A four-member team from the 613th Air Operations Center here, joined the crew of the USS Carl Vinson as it was underway transiting the U.S. Pacific Command’s area of responsibility.

The team, led by Col. Doug Rice, 613th AOC Chief of Combat Plans Division, was on a 7-day visit to interact with Carrier Strike Group-One staff, the ship’s company, and Destroyer Squadron One personnel.

“Our primary focus here is two-fold; to strengthen our already healthy relationship between Pacific Air Forces and Third Fleet, and to discuss opportunities for integration during CSG-1’s Western Pacific deployment,” said Rice.

The Air Force team was joined by Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Pohnel, Pacific Fleet Liaison Officer to the Air Force, whose responsibilities fall within a Naval and Amphibious Liaison Element. The NALE is embedded within the AOC to act as a trusted agent representing the PACFLT commander and help bridge the efforts between the AOC and Navy units.

“This is a great opportunity CSG-1 has afforded us,” said Pohnel. “Our time spent on the Carl Vinson will pay dividends with regard to communication and understanding the intent of our joint efforts.”

“Airpower is not unique to a single service alone,” said Lt. Col. Chris Collins, 613th AOC Chief of Master Air Attack Planning. “Parochial, divided approaches are not recipes to success. The United States’ ability to achieve the combatant commander’s goals with effects-based strike warfare is at its best when airpower is joint. We seek opportunities with our U.S. Navy counterparts to normalize joint airpower between the services and make those operations seamless.”

“The interactions have been outstanding,” said Senior Master Sgt. Dawn Peters, 613th AOC non-commissioned officer in charge of Air Tasking Order Production. “I’ve learned a lot from working with our Navy partners. Additionally, the time we took to review our own Air Force processes has been time well spent.”

The 613th AOC team, as subject matter experts representing Pacific Command’s air component, have collaborated with several departments and warfare commanders.

“Sometimes, we need to reach past the emails and phone calls,” said Master Sgt. Sidney Kelley, 613th AOC NCOIC of Airspace Management. “This chance to reach across the table, shake hands, and look people in the eyes to have serious discussions on joint integration is simply the best way to go. Relationships of all kinds are stronger when made more personal.”

As the trip wrapped up, Col. Rice provided his thoughts on the visit.

“This is mission success,” said Rice. “Rear Adm. James Kilby, Carrier Strike Group One commander; his staff, and the excellent members of the CSG have been gracious with their time. The conversations and interactions here have gone a long way to normalize joint integration.”

“The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force are natural partners in PACOM,” said Collins. “This is a challenging area of responsibility, and I’m confident our partnership will help us overcome any challenge.”