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Base establishes reach back control center in support of flood air operations

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As the Federal Emergency Management Agency teams with the military to fight the Red River flood in North Dakota, Grand Forks Air Force Base continues its unwavering support as the National Logistics Staging Area. 

Twenty-three aircraft, from the Army, Coast Guard, Army National Guard and other Air Force units, landed at Grand Forks AFB and have begun flying missions in support of the flood efforts. While here, these aircraft are being controlled by a single entity, the Air Operations Center. The AOC is the central command location for all air flood support going in and out of the Grand Forks area. 

What the Air Force calls the AOC, the Army calls the Aviation Task Force, which is primarily used for immediate recovery operations. 

"The ATF that was established at Grand Forks AFB is being run by the Army units that have been sent to the area in support of the flood. The Air Force's role here at the base is to support their efforts, and provide the things needed to help them succeed," said Lt. Col. Brian McDaniel, 319th Operations Group deputy commander.
The ATF at Grand Forks AFB is the reach back, or back-up, for the ATF that is currently based out of Fargo, N.D. These reach back capabilities include recovery efforts and medical evacuation of flood victims if necessary. 

Within the ATF there are two operations centers which conduct the day-to-day operations. These centers not only receive the mission taskings, but they also track every aircraft that flies in and out of the base. 

"This isn't the first place our unit has been in support of the flood efforts in North Dakota," said Master Sgt. Keith Brown, Army National Guard, 1st Battalion 112th Aviation Regiment out of Bismarck, N.D. "Just in the past two weeks, we've been to Linton, Bismarck and now Grand Forks," he continued. 

The 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, an active duty Army unit assigned to Fort Riley, Kan., arrived at Grand Forks AFB less than a day after being notified of the mission. Within 24 hours, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 1st CAB arrived, and within 48 hours they had sent four CH-47 Chinook helicopters. 

"Support from Grand Forks AFB has been nothing less than outstanding. The support we've received from them is what allows us to continue our efforts," said Lt. Col. Jerry Anderson, Army National Guard, ATF officer in charge.