EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Operation Noble Eagle is the extensive air defense effort designed to prevent Sept. 11, 2001-style air attacks in America, according to Otto Kreisher of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Eielson Air Force Base houses the 168th Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard, which has a fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers that act as alert aircraft in support of Operational Noble Eagle.
“Operation Noble Eagle in this sense is aerospace sovereignty,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Doyle, the 168th Operation Support Squadron commander. “We have the tankers at Eielson and we support the tankers with aircrew and maintenance.”
According to Doyle, the 168th Wing and the 354th Fighter Wing work diligently together to defend the airspace and control the sovereignty of the airspace for Alaska. It’s a huge total force operation between the guard and active duty components.
In order to have a successful mission, the 168th relies on various aspects of the 354th mission.
“The airfield is completely run by the 354th,” said Doyle. “From runway and airfield operations, to the snow barn and security forces. We all work together as a team to get the mission done and that teamwork is imperative for success.”
“Maintaining an airfield and executing a KC-135 tanker operation are both complex enterprises,” said Col. Todd Robbins, 354th FW vice commander. “Doing these things in interior Alaska in the winter, with its extreme temperatures and weather, introduces additional challenges you don’t have in other places. The outstanding Airmen of the 168th Wing and 354th FW work together as a team to make it happen regardless of what the environment throws at us.”
Operation Noble Eagle is a 365 day, 24/7 mission that cannot fail; through the combined efforts of active duty and guard Airmen at Eielson, this mission never will.