News>Commentary: 505th Command and Control Wing celebrates milestone anniversary March 12
(Right to left) Tech. Sgt. Ryan Petterson, 1st Lt. Pan Hall and Maj. Jennifer Maceda, students at the 505th Training Squadron, manage air and space operations during an end of course exercise March 19 at Hurlburt Field. The exercise tests operational level command and control in an air operations center. The 505th TRS falls under the 505th CCW, which is the only wing in the United States Air Force dedicated to operational-level command and control (C2). (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jason Epley)
by Col. Jack Shanahan
Commander, 505th Command and Control Wing
3/3/2009 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Have you ever driven through the main gate here and wondered about that large warehouse-like building off to the right with the letters "505th Command and Control Wing" on the side of it? If so, you are not alone. While the 505th is an Air Combat Command wing that has been a tenant unit at Hurlburt Field since 1980, few people in the local area are familiar with the wing's mission. The 505th CCW is one of the Air Force's newer wings, and on March 12, we will celebrate our fifth anniversary.
The 505th CCW is the only wing in the United States Air Force dedicated to operational-level command and control (C2). We are focused on supporting air and space component commanders--those Air Force warfighting three-star generals who live at the operational level of warfare and who are tasked to integrate air, space, and cyber capabilities in support of a Joint Force Commander.
The wing's unique mission is to advance, integrate, and standardize testing, tactics, and training for operational-level command of air, space, and cyber power in the joint and coalition environment. What exactly does that mean? Tactics involve the use of individual platforms such as fighters, bombers, air refueling aircraft, command and control aircraft, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft such as Rivet Joint, Global Hawk, or Predator. The operational level of warfare is about translating policy and guidance from national leaders and theater commanders into a comprehensive and integrated plan that results in tasking those same fighters, bombers, and intelligence platforms as well as space and cyber capabilities to carry out missions in support of a joint force commander's campaign plan.
The 505th has a long association with Hurlburt Field. The wing's lineage traces back to 1947, when the 505th Aircraft Control and Warning Group was established at McChord Field, Washington. At the time, the Group operated west coast radar stations and flew B-25 "Mitchells" used to calibrate those radar sites. After eight years of service in Vietnam as the 505th Tactical Control Group, earning thirteen campaign streamers and five Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" devices, the 505th deactivated in 1973. On March 1,1980, the 505th's lineage continued with the activation of 4442nd Tactical Control Group here, as part of the United States Air Force Tactical Air Warfare Center. At the time, the Group managed a command, control, communications (C3) and intelligence complex, while also conducting operational tests and evaluating tactical air control elements. They provided training on tactical air control and until 1997 operated the USAF Air Ground Operations School.
Since 1980, the Group changed names and parent organizations several times while always maintaining a headquarters element here. On March 12, 2004, Air Combat Command stood up the 505th Command and Control Wing under the United States Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, with the wing headquarters here. Today, the wing comprises three Groups at Hurlburt Field, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada; a Detachment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and eight subordinate squadrons, two detachments, and several operating locations spread out from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska to Melbourne, Florida.
The 505th's diverse mission set spans from Air and Space Operations Center initial and advanced training; to Air Support Operations Center initial qualification training; to planning and executing Blue Flag and Virtual Flag exercises; developing distributed mission operations capabilities; providing support to all major Air Force and joint operational-level exercises; supporting the Army's Battle Command Training Program; running Combined Air and Space Operations Center-Nellis; performing continental United States radar evaluation and assessment; and performing operational testing for all Air Force Command and Control and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance systems. Let me put it another way: if it deals with operational-level command and control, the 505th CCW is involved. Through our testing, tactics, and training mission we are preparing Air Force and joint personnel for today's fight as well as for the fight of tomorrow. In 2008, the wing supported over 300 C2-related events, providing direct or indirect training to over 70,000 people, over half of whom were from another Service.
Command and control has always been important; in today's environment it is more important than ever due to a steadily dwindling number of aircraft and a commensurate explosion in technology and the need to integrate increasingly complex global air, space, and cyber capabilities. For the United States Air Force, the 20th Century was all about tactical airpower. Success in the 21st Century will belong to those who excel at operational-level command and control and cross-domain integration. The 505th CCW is setting the stage for Airmen and joint warriors to succeed in this new environment. Without a hint of hubris, as the 505th wing commander I am proud to state that the 505th CCW, "The Little Wing That Could", has become one of the best and most important wings in the United States Air Force. When it comes to "bang for the buck", this small wing is punching far above its weight class. Next time you drive through the Hurlburt Field main gate, take another look at the large flag and building to your right and wish us a Happy Anniversary!