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Seventh Air Force hosts four ACCEs

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Michael Shavers
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Communication is one of the key elements of combat operations that has to work in order for the mission to be carried out. Likewise, the business of running the 7th Air Force Air Operations Center requires trusted liaisons with other military components that make up the U.S. combat force in the Republic of Korea. These liaisons are called Air Component Coordination Elements or "ACCEs".

During the recent Peninsula Operational Readiness Exercise held Jan. 22-26 at Osan, 7th Air Force trained four Air Reserve Component officers in how the 7th Air Force AOC operates, which allows them to be liaisons for the 7th Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood.

Each of the four officers was selected based on their experience. Each has more than 30 years of Air Force service in a variety of operational assignments.

"This effort is a first for 7th Air Force and comes out of lessons learned in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom where the Air Operations Centers had similar liaisons working with the component commands to successfully prosecute both operations," said, Lt. Gen. Wood. "The goal is to create liaison officers who understand how I think, how the AOC works, and then can help us communicate with the other component commands to execute our combat mission more efficiently."

The four liaisons will be assigned to the other component commands within U.S. Forces Korea such as the Marine Forces Component Commander or the Naval Component Commander.

It has been military doctrine for years that the forces fight in a joint environment, with each service adding its capability to create a fighting force that is much more than what the individual services are capable of doing.

During the PENORE, each of the "ACCEs" had a chance to see the full range of missions conducted in the Air Operations Center from the planning to the conduct of coalition flying operations.

One of the ACCEs, Col. Kevin Pottinger was struck by the joint effort that it takes to conduct the combat operations, "It's interesting to see how General Wood interfaces with the Combined Forces Command. Successful combat operations require that the component commanders stick to the CFC plan."

"As ACCEs, we serve as Lt. Gen. Wood's personal liaisons and primary representatives to better integrate air and space operations with surface operations," said Col. Pete McCaffery one of the ACCEs. "If done right, this has the potential to pay huge dividends for the Republic of Korea, our Air Force and 7th Air Force."

Having an opportunity to see both the interaction within the Air Force Staff and the additional interaction with the Republic of Korea Air Force, not only makes this a joint fight but a combined fight, added Lt. Gen. Wood. Col Richard Haddad, another ACCE, echoed his comments, "I'm amazed at the dedication, knowledge and professionalism of the Republic of Korea forces; they are extremely committed to the defense of their country."

"To be an effective liaison requires a solid background of trust and understanding," said Brig. Gen. Kevin Henabray, the fourth ACCE. "Liasions provide communication vertically and horizontally. For us to represent General Wood out there requires a huge amount of trust."

Each liaison will get a chance to put their newly learned skills to work in the near future during the RSO&I exercise in March and later in the annual Ulchi Focus Lens exercise. Each of them will work with a different component commander, providing advice on how the air component would conduct their part of the fight.

The end result, said Lt. Gen. Wood, is that they will be able to provide direct feedback to their component commander in near real time, almost as if he were there.