Air National Guard, Air Force Reserves Airmen contribute to Operation Odyssey Dawn

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- In response to the recent conflict in Libya, approximately 50 Air National Guardsmen and Air Forces Reservists joined forces with their active duty counterparts and coalition partners to run the 603rd Air and Space Operations Center here.

The 603rd, in partnership with the 617th AOC, controls all the combat air operations in support of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn in an effort to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya as part of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.

"If you look on the floor, you can't tell who is guard, reserve or active duty," said Col. Doug Henry, 110th Air Support Squadron commander. The Colonel's home unit, from Battle Creek, Mich., is connected to the 617th and 17th Air Force. So when the 617th became integral to Operation Odyssey Dawn, the 110th was naturally included. "We are proud to be part of this and appreciate that we were asked to be part of this team."

Along with their coalition partners, the guardsmen work alongside their active duty counterparts planning and coordinating every aspect of the mission.

"If you take a look at the majority of the enlisted folks here, at least 50 percent are [guardsmen]," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Shankleton, 110th AOC senior offensive duty officer technician. "I think this is a very good example of the guard and active duty working together as a team."

This is part of a gradual cultural shift in the AOC community towards integration rather than augmentation, according to the chief.

"In today's environment of budget cuts and limited assets we have to look at new ways of doing business," Chief Shankleton said. "We have taken our capabilities and we've merged them. We are not backfilling, but are actually intergraded into one force."
Another contributing component were the members of the Air Force Reserve.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to be part of this incredible team," said Lt. Col. Kevin Palko, a reservist with 315th Airlift Wing. "It's amazing to watch the synergy between all the different components coming together. The Air Force today is a team effort from all the different services and components and Operation Odyssey Dawn is a great example of that."

The additional expertise the guardsmen and reservists brought with them was well received.

"We couldn't have done it without them," said Col. David Barnes, 603rd AOC deputy commander. "Their expertise, professionalism and the ability to get the job done in a short amount of time is absolutely incredible. They were able to roll into every position in the AOC; bringing diverse experience ranging from targeting to knowledge management operations."