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AOC Leaders Invited to Brief at Kuwait Joint Command and Staff College
Col. Dirk Smith, 609th Air Operations Center commander, and Brig. Gen. Nasser Al Hussainan, the Mubarak Al Abdullah Joint Command and Staff College Director of Studies in Kuwait, shake hands after General Hussainan presents a token of appreciation to the U.S. Air Forces Central team for delivering “first class” presentations on current and emerging ideas from the air operations component on various military topics. For the first time ever, four U.S. Air Forces officers were invited to the school to lecture 92 students from 19 countries within the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. The school is generally run by British officers in partnership with Kuwaitis. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
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U.S. Air Force officers brief at Kuwait Joint Command and Staff College

Posted 2/18/2011   Updated 2/19/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Angelique N. Smythe
U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs

2/18/2011 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- For the first time in history, four U.S. Air Force officers visited Kuwait's Mubarak Al Abdullah Joint Command and Staff College to lecture 92 students from 19 countries within the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf on various joint military topics.

The school is similar to the U.S. Air Force's Air Command and Staff College and prepares field grade officers to lead at the operational level of warfare. It is run by British officers in partnership with Kuwaitis.

In December 2010, Kuwait's Director of Military Cooperation requested the U.S. Air Forces Central provide subject matter experts to brief students on current and emerging ideas from the air operations component.

U.S. AFCENT answered the call and sent Col. Dirk Smith, 609th Air Operations Center Commander; Lt. Col. Chad Riden, AFCENT Director of Space Forces Space Control Officer; Major Joseph Deporter, 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Operations Squadron Commander; and Captain Casey Meyer, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division Production Chief.

The team spent two days briefing, developing relationships, and enlightening students on various subjects from their areas of expertise. Each briefing lasted 30 to 45 minutes, with 30 minutes allotted for questions and answers.

Captain Meyer, who spoke on remotely piloted aircraft, discussed RPAs of all shapes and sizes and the increase of flexibility as capabilities are enhanced.

"We discussed why RPAs are in such high demand, the kind of intelligence they provide, and how they are utilized in counter-insurgency warfare," he said. "We spoke of lessons learned over the past 10 years, how the AOC commands and controls RPAs, and the planning needed to use these assets effectively."

As many countries are only just recently developing RPA capabilities, the students were very engaged in his presentation and asked several great questions, said the Shenandoah, Iowa, native, who is currently deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

Colonel Riden, a Colorado Springs, Colo., native, provided a briefing on capabilities and services that are provided from space.

He enlightened the students on systems, satellites and the products or services those assets provide for use in people's daily lives as well as for military use.

"It was a Space 101 brief," he said. "For example, everyone wants to know about GPS, which provides military forces with positioning and timing information. But few realize GPS enables a myriad of other functions. ATMs (automated teller machines) for instance, require GPS to sync information. If we didn't have GPS, our ATMs wouldn't work."

Colonel Riden said the information seemed to be well received by the students.

"Their questions were insightful, and, afterwards, they shook our hands and thanked us for coming," he said. "The trip was intended to show our willingness to partner with other nations and our cooperative attitude, and I think our goal was achieved."

At the end of class, the group was given the opportunity to experience the Kuwaiti culture. They were shown around Kuwait City, enjoyed some local food and had dinner with several Kuwaiti leaders.

"They were certainly a very gracious host," said Colonel Riden. "They were very appreciative of us taking time out of our schedules to come, and I really appreciated their hospitality and the ability to see and experience their culture."

For his part, Major Deporter, a San Diego, Calif., native, explained how the U.S. Air Force sustains air operations. He covered the personnel and logistics processes needed to support the combatant commander.

"I walked 92 students through how the Air Force, in no small way, deploys and sustains air operations through the distinctive capability of the Agile Combat Support," he said. "Ultimately, we are tasked with generating and regenerating aircraft in support of the Air Tasking Order - a continuous cycle that happens continuously each and every day."

He educated them on the processes required to answer the call of the combatant commander, from readiness to employment and recovery of the force. The example he used was that of taking a squadron of F-15C pilots, maintainers, and support personnel, relocating them to their deployed location, generating combat power for the combatant commander, and then redeploying them back to home station.

"I also spoke about supply reachback, which includes all the supplies associated with maintaining and sustaining aircraft," he said. "The maintainers couldn't generate aircraft without parts to fix them."

When a student asked what the biggest challenge was, Major Deporter said it was balancing the high deployment rates with continuous skills training.

"It is a continuous challenge to ensure that, through all the deployments, we continue to care for our most valuable asset--our human resources," he said. "Our people have to be maintained as well."

Colonel Smith concluded the session with a briefing on the Air Operations Center - the operational level command and control node for the theater.

He emphasized the importance of leaders moving on to the next level, and to resist the urge to return to the tactical level, where they will feel most comfortable.

"As a fighter pilot, I know a lot about flying, but in this job I have to look at the bigger picture," he said. "The primary role of the AOC is to be the conductor of all the tactical assets, and not necessarily to get into the details of what occurs within each wing."

"My overriding theme was teamwork, communication and mutual support - helping each other out," he said. "At the operational level, it's very important that we appreciate all the perspectives of the different players in the coalition and realize that your way is not always the right way. It's very important to listen and take into account the unique capabilities of all coalition members."

For Colonel Smith, who deployed from Langley AFB, Va., another interesting aspect of his trip was seeing the change that had occurred within Kuwait since 1991, when the U.S. liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's invading Iraqi Army.

"I was a brand new lieutenant, an F-15C pilot deployed to the region from Eglin AFB (Fla.)," he said. "I remember flying over the Kuwait Towers 20 years ago and seeing all the destruction that had occurred as a result of the war. To return 20 years later and see the city rebuilt and experience the excitement in the Kuwaiti people as they approach their 50/20 celebration was very gratifying."

Being the first U.S. Air Force officers to teach at the school, the team was provided a unique opportunity to share knowledge and reinforce the bonds between the U.S. and Kuwait.

The timing was appropriate in light of Kuwait's upcoming 50/20 celebration, which commemorates the 50 years since Kuwait was granted independence from Great Britain and 20 years since the U.S. liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's invading forces.

Brig. Gen. Nasser Al Hussainan, the Mubarak Al Abdullah Joint Command and Staff College Director of Studies, presented the team a gift of appreciation at the end of their visit, and the course coordinator warmly thanked the team for delivering "first class" presentations.

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