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24/7 Alert mission provides protection from potential threats

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Story by MSgt Craig Michael on 06/10/2019
On a distant gulf coastline, a fully loaded lethal flying machine sits idle 24 hours a day, seven days a week, lying in wait with the relentless mission of safeguarding American skies.

The 138th Fighter Wing Detachment-1 is trained to conduct the North American Aerospace Defense Command's Aerospace Control Alert mission providing domestic and international threat protection to The United States and Canada on a moment's notice.

Operation NOBLE EAGLE ramped up its posture soon after the 9/11 attacks in an effort to quickly respond to acts of terrorism or other potentially harmful airborne threats under any weather condition and applies to all air sovereignty and air defense mission in North America.

The 138th Fighter Wing began the alert mission in February 2008, splintering off a portion of Wing members to support the operation at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, Texas.

To support this crucial operation, an unbroken relationship remains between the Wing in Tulsa and the Detachment to ensure pilots, maintainers, F-16s and equipment are ferried back and forth 512 miles, leaving no room for error in the event of a real-world scramble.

"We're essentially a fire department for the skies," said Lt. Col. Travis Clegg, 138th Fighter Wing, Detachment -1. "Instead of fire trucks, we have armed fighter jets ready to go at a moment's notice to protect the airspace over the Gulf Coast region."

When the siren signals an aerial event within a certain radius, pilots and maintenance professionals ready themselves in an instant, scrambling to locked and loaded jets, achieving horn to airborne swiftly to intercept, inspect, influence and, if necessary, defeat a potential airborne threat to the country.

"Everybody here has the same vision," said Clegg. "It's personally satisfying to protect the country and city you live in."

A large engraved rock rests in an entryway to an ACA building reads "WE WILL NEVER FORGET", signaling a constant reminder on the significance of this unyielding mission for the Gulf Coast Guardians, 138th Fighter Wing Detachment -1.

Defense of the homelands is NORAD's top priority and is on alert around-the-clock to execute its aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning missions.


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