CONR, sectors receive highest inspection ratings
Capt. Don Arias
he 1st Air Force air sovereignty team hit a grand slam this winter when its headquarters and three air defense sectors all received "Outstanding" ratings on their Air Force inspections.
First Air Force, in its role as the continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, was put to the test during the four-day NORAD Operational Evaluation. The Northeast, Southeast and Western air defense sectors, meanwhile, demonstrated their command and control skills during concurrent Air Combat Command Operational Readiness Inspections.
"It just doesn't get any finer, any better than this," said Maj. Gen. Larry K. Arnold, 1st Air Force and CONR commander.
Arnold said the results are particularly gratifying given 1st Air Force's recent conversion to an Air National Guard organization. As of October 1997, 1st Air Force, CONR and the sectors have been staffed and led by Air National Guard members. Dozens of Canadian Forces members are also part of the air sovereignty team.
"There's never been a grand slam ORI/NOE in the history of this outfit," said Brig. Gen. Kenneth J. Stromquist Jr., 1st Air Force vice commander.
The inspections, which ended Saturday, Jan. 23, were the culmination of seven months of exercises that included simulated and real-world scenarios. Many attributed the successful outcome to teamwork.
Southeast Air Defense Sector commander, Col. Ted Kraemer, expressed pride at a job well-done. "The teamwork I have seen every day at the sector is what brought such awesome results," he said. Canadian Forces Brig. Gen. Jim Hunter said the cooperation between American and Canadian Forces exemplifies the spirit of NORAD's 40-year-old binational agreement.
Col. John Cromwell, Western Air Defense Sector commander, was ecstatic. "Wow! What a fantastic performance. An 'Outstanding' in our Operational Readiness Inspection demonstrates how well we have come together as a team, not only within the sector, but with the other sectors as well as our higher headquarters."
"This achievement has particular significance for those who worked early transition issues," said Col. Michael Corbett, Northeast Air Defense Sector commander. "It's apparent this mission is well-suited to the Air National Guard. Combine this achievement with the current trend in flight safety statistics and it is evident the Air National Guard is now setting the standard, perhaps even call it a benchmark, that others must now strive to meet."
Tech. Sgt. Paul Acklin of SEADS was recognized for his superior performance during the inspections. "The variety of backgrounds, whether Army, different Air Force career fields, or civilian specialties, has produced a unique ability for us to overcome any problem presented to the computer maintenance shop," he said.
Col. Carl "Chip" Cumm, NEADS deputy commander for operations, said,
"NEADS was the proof of concept and these outstanding results validate our Air
National Guard transition."