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Key Military Missions at D-M By David B. Pittman

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is home to six key military organizations: The 12th Air Force Headquarters, a ten-

ant at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, is one of the most powerful military organizations in the world. The 12th Air Force is responsible for the combat readiness of 10 active-duty wings and three direct-reporting units in the western United States. The fighter and bomber wings the 12th Air Force oversees include 430 aircraft and more than 33,000 active-duty military and civilian personnel. It also oversees four Air Force Reserve wings and 13 Air National Guard wings, including an additional 18,800 people and more than 260 aircraft. The 12th Air Force also serves as the air component to U.S. Southern Command – the Unified Command responsible for Central America, South America and the Caribbean. In this role, 12th Air Force is referred to as U.S. Southern Command Air Forces. This responsibility includes staff oversight, coordination and supervision of Air Force assets engaged in counter-narcotics missions. Another responsibility is to maintain a worldwide deployable Air Operations Center, which provides Joint Forces air commanders the ability to design and execute an air campaign. Members of the AOC build and execute daily air-tasking orders and airspace control orders, coordinate all logistics and service support to deployed air forces, establish and maintain essential communications links with air forces, and provide continuous intelligence and threat assessment to commanders. Lt. Gen. Tod D. Wolters, a three-star general and the highest ranking officer at D-M, is commander of the 12th Air Force. One of the wings Walters oversees is the 355th Fighter Wing – which means he oversees Col. Kevin E. Blanchard, the installation commander of D-M and commander of the 355th Fighter Wing. The 355th Fighter Wing operates the A-10

Thunderbolt II, an aircraft that provides close air support to ground forces, air interdiction, forward air control, combat search, and ground-based tactical control and airbase operations. The 355th Fighter Wing, which is the host unit at D-M, is composed of four groups – the 355th Operations Group, the 355th Maintenance Group, the 355th Mission Support Group and the 355th Medical Group.

The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, also known

as “the boneyard,” is the nation’s sole aircraft boneyard for all excess military and government aircraft. It has grown to include more than 4,400 aircraft and 13 aerospace vehicles from the Air Force, Navy-Marine Corps, Army, Coast Guard and several federal agencies, including NASA. The 55th Electronic Combat Group

provides combat-ready EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, crews, maintenance and operational support to combatant commanders. The group also plans and executes information operations, including information warfare and electronic attack (jamming), in support of theater campaign plans. Members of the 55th ECG conduct EC-130H aircrew initial qualification and difference training for 20 aircrew specialties and support operational and force development testing and evaluation for new aircraft systems. The 612th Air Communications Squadron provides premier Air & Space

Operations Center weapon systems communications support and versatile deployable communications capability to the United States Southern Command. The 563rd Rescue Group directs flying operations for the U.S. Air Force’s only active-duty rescue wing dedicated to combat search and rescue. The group, which consists of 1,125 military and civilian personnel, is responsible for training, readiness and maintenance of one HC130 squadron and two HH-60 squadrons, two para-rescue squadrons, two maintenance squadrons and an operations support squadron operating from two geographically separated operating locations, one of which is at D-M.

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