The 115th Fighter Wing conducted an Alert Force Operational Assessment (AFOA) at its Madison, Wisconsin base June 8-11.
The AFOA team of specialized personnel from 1st Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, visited the Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) 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 115th Fighter 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 (TOI) 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's 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."