03/20/06 — Base unveils command post

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Base unveils command post

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 20, 2006 1:45 PM

In the event of a hurricane, deployment or routine exercise, officials at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base need to be able to come up with a plan. Friday, they showed off a new facility in which to do just that.

Led by Maj. Don Cornwell, the 4th Fighter Wing provided a few dozen members of the community with an opportunity to tour the base's new command section and command post Friday.

Cornwell, chief of the command post, said the facility is state of the art -- equipped with new technology and software. The equipment is there, he added, and now training people to use it is the only step left.

"Our project now is figuring out how to use the technology here," he said.

Once training is complete, the new facility will be fully operational. Within the command post, in addition to administrative and training offices, two key areas are used to access and relay information to the wing commander to help him make important decisions.

The "emergency action cell" is one of them, Cornwell said.

"This (room) is basically the control center for our wing commander," he said. "From here, we take his decisions and direct the wing."

Cornwell added calls from the community, around the base, even the Pentagon come through the emergency action cell.

In the next room, a large screen hangs on the wall facing a series of chairs. It is known as the battle staff room and is where leaders of the entire wing meet during a variety of circumstances.

Cornwell likened a gathering of these individuals as a staff meeting -- with Wing Commander Col. Mike Holmes at the helm.

"In here, we give him the capability to access all the information from around the base," Cornwell said. "In the event of hurricanes, excursuses, deployments -- most all situations -- we run through it in here."

Because this information can be put on the big screen and reviewed by a number of base personnel, it becomes easier to run the wing in a crisis situation, he added. And the software used in the battle staff room has tremendous capabilities.

"Capabilities include being able to track all aircraft that are in the air on a given day, who's flying each aircraft and their flight schedule," Cornwell said. "If we were in a real world situation, this information would be critical to Col. Holmes."

But hopefully for the next few months, there won't be any need to utilize the full capabilities of the facility, Holmes said. That way, his staff can have some time to practice.

"(Over the next nine months) they will give us false attacks on base to see how we handle that, and we'll be practicing all the things that can go wrong in a real world situation," he said.