Alert forces demonstrate mission-readiness

F-16 Aircraft #87-261 from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis. intercepts a simulated non-responsive civilian aircraft during a Fertile Keynote Exercise Oct.18, 2011. The exercise tests the readiness of personnel assigned to the Air Control Alert mission, to rapidly respond to potential aircraft threats approaching or operating within U.S. or Canadian airspace. (Photo by Capt. David Berget, Lacrosse Composite Squadron, Wisconsin Wing Civil Air Patrol)

F-16 Aircraft #87-261 from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis. intercepts a simulated non-responsive civilian aircraft during a Fertile Keynote Exercise Oct.18, 2011. The exercise tests the readiness of personnel assigned to the Air Control Alert mission, to rapidly respond to potential aircraft threats approaching or operating within U.S. or Canadian airspace. (Photo by Capt. David Berget, Lacrosse Composite Squadron, Wisconsin Wing Civil Air Patrol)

MADISON, Wis. -- The Alert Force Operational Assessment for 2015 took place at the 115th Fighter Wing, Madison, Wisconsin, June 8-11.

The AFOA team of specialized personnel from 1st Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, visited the Aerospace Control Alert site to assess its mission-readiness. These assessments usually come before a no-notice, official North American Aerospace Defense Command Inspector General Inspection, and occur every 20-24 months.

"The AFOA team looks at our training programs, alert procedures, overall operation and provides feedback," said Lt. Col. Matthew Peltier, ACA commander. "They provide us with recommended improvement areas, weaknesses and strengths."

The team spent the week watching over and providing feedback for numerous activities. The Wing demonstrated its ability to accomplish the mission through a practice scramble, and also used a Fertile Keynote exercise.

"A Fertile Keynote utilizes Cessna 182s from the Civil Air Patrol," Peltier said. "The CAP will fly as a Target of Interest and act in specific ways to simulate a scenario that we may be called upon to investigate."

A common mission for the pilots is to 'inspect.'

"We scramble our alert aircraft, intercept the TOI, and report back to Eastern Air Defense Sector," Peltier said. "We become EADS eyes and ears. Often we attempt to communicate with the TOI, and provide assistance if required."

Typically the AFOA team needs two days to assess the alert facilities, operations and maintenance practices.

According to Senior Master Sgt. Scott Edmonston, ACA chief enlisted manager, the assessors were impressed with the maintenance practices and overall condition of the jets.

"I heard the AFOA team members make comments like, 'the aircraft were impeccable, probably the best we've seen to date,' and 'the alert aircraft were immaculately maintained and pride of ownership was evident,'" Edmonston said. "Comments like this make me even more proud of my Airmen. I'm fortunate to supervise people who take pride in their aircraft to ensure the Aerospace Control Alert, no fail mission, can be accomplished."

Since this assessment was not graded, the Airmen had a chance to discuss concerns or issues while learning from the AFOA team's observations.

"The outside look is a great way to identify issues that, for one reason or another, we just aren't able to identify on our own," Peltier said. "The AFOA team can bring awareness to these unknown issues, engage in conversation, collaborate to fix, and address concerns in a non-threatening manner."

In addition to these AFOA assessments, the Wing is also evaluated internally throughout the year.

"We do utilize the 115th Fighter Wing IG and quality assurance teams to evaluate and inspect our mission readiness with the same in-depth look as both the AFOA and NORAD IG would," Peltier said. "There really isn't a need to have 'extra' preparation prior to these assessments; we are always ready."
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