News: Wyoming native finishes combat operations support with deployed AWACS unit as air surveillance officer
Story by Senior Airman Jenifer Calhoun
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Capt. Michael Hogan's hometown of Gillette, Wyo., has a motto as the "Energy Capital of the Nation" for the coal, oil and coal bed methane gas naturally abundant in the area. For Hogan, as an air surveillance officer on the E-3 Sentry, he is part of an airframe that "energizes" the stratosphere in support of combat operations.
"I supervise and lead a surveillance team on board the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft," said Hogan, who deployed to a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia with the 965th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron. "I configure and employ aircraft sensors and identification equipment to produce an 'air picture' of the entire air space above any area of interest. This also entails analyzing the situation, identifying military and commercial aircraft and communicating the air picture to joint and coalition higher headquarters."
Hogan recently redeployed to the 965th AACS at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. While deployed to Southwest Asia, he explained the importance of having an air surveillance officer on the E-3 and the importance of the E-3 itself in the combat zone.
"My responsibility is to provide a big picture view of the air space above areas like Afghanistan," Hogan said. "With this we are able to communicate exactly what is happening in the air. We can transmit this picture back to the men and women who make decision on how to best employ our air craft.
"In certain situations, our mission crew has the expertise to make these split-second decisions onboard the jet," Hogan said. "We can communicate these directives to the pilots through radio communication, or, using the latest communication technology we can send digital information to the pilot in the cockpit."
According to its Air Force fact sheet, the E-3 Sentry is an aircraft with an integrated command and control battle management, or C2BM, surveillance, target detection and tracking platform. The aircraft provides an "accurate, real-time picture" of the battlespace to the Joint Air Operations Center.
AWACS aircraft also provide situational awareness of friendly, neutral and hostile activity, command and control of an area of responsibility, battle management of theater forces, all-altitude and all-weather surveillance of the battle space, and early warning of enemy actions during joint, allied and coalition operations, the fact sheet states.
A seven-year veteran of the Air Force, Hogan said he "was the last person people would expect to join the military." However, he said world events and a call of duty brought him forward, away from his hometown in northeast Wyoming, to serve.
"All through high school and college, I did not hesitate to criticize the government for decisions I once believed were unjust," Hogan said. "After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, I realized that the world did not need another person criticizing our country's policies. I feel that it is important to participate in the events that impact our nation."
Through his "direct involvement" with combat operations with the E-3 Sentry's airborne command and control mission, Hogan said the Air Force has given him the opportunity to participate in events that he once only watched on television.
"From this perspective, I now realize that our military and elected officials have to make difficult decision every day," Hogan said. "These decisions are based on information that is not always made available to television or news media. My time in the Air Force has taught me faith in the leadership of military and our country.
"Our leaders make difficult decisions every day and I now believe that these decisions, for the most part, are decided with the interests of not only the American people, but of the consideration of all humanity," the captain said. "And the men and women who carry out these decisions are some of the brightest and most selfless people I have ever met."
Recently, the 965th EAACS transferred its deployed to the 963rd EAACS, also deployed from Tinker AFB. Both are a part of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. The wing is home to the KC-10 Extender, U-2 Dragon Lady, E-3 Sentry and RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft.
The wing is comprised of four groups and 12 squadrons and the wing's deployed mission includes air refueling, air battle management, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of overseas contingency operations in Southwest Asia. The 380th AEW supports operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
This work, Wyoming native finishes combat operations support with deployed AWACS unit as air surveillance officer, by MSgt Jenifer Calhoun, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.