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Military Capabilities

AFCENT command moves from Qatar to US to increase resilience

02 October 2019
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The CAOC at Al-Udeid Air Base is seen empty on 28 September when its functions were temporarily taken over by personnel at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. Source: US Air Force/Senior Airman Sean Campbell

In a proof-of-concept exercise carried out on 28 September, personnel at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina temporarily took over from the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at Qatar's Al-Udeid Air Base, US Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) announced three days later.

"Command and control [C2] of the day's [AFCENT] air operations are happening from the United States at Shaw," said Colonel Trey Coleman, commander of the 609th Air Operations Center that took over from the CAOC. "Going forward, we plan to make this a regular thing. We will command and control airpower from distributed locations for a portion of every 24 hour Air Tasking Order period."

AFCENT Deputy Commander Major General Chance Saltzman noted that AFCENT's ability to provide C2 for US Central Command (CENTCOM) airspace was a critical capability. "Because it is critical, there are actors in the region committed to destroying this capability," he said.

"We now have the capability and capacity to control our forces from this location [the CAOC] and secure locations back in the United States," he added. "This resiliency assures that we can continue our mission to provide security and stability through airpower under any and all threat conditions and phases of operations."

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