Eielson’s 168th and 354th work together to support Operation Noble Eagle

Eielson’s 168th and 354th work together to support Operation Noble Eagle

A KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, sits on the ramp at Eielson AFB, Alaska, de-iced and with heaters running, awaiting the arrival of its’ crew and passengers who will be taking the jet to Southwest Asia, Oct. 22, 2017. Citizen Airmen assigned to the Interior Alaska unit are deploying in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom's Sentinel, providing support to U.S. and coalition forces throughout the Southwest Asia area of responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Paul Mann)

Eielson’s 168th and 354th work together to support Operation Noble Eagle

A U.S. E-3 Sentry aircraft takes off from the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) flight line Aug. 27, 2013. JBER's F-22 Raptor aircraft and E-3 Sentry, along with the KC-135 Stratotankers from the 168th Wing at Eielson air Force Base, often support Operation Noble Eagle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson)

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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jerred Davis, a 354th Civil Engineer Squadron pavement and construction equipment operator, clears the flight line of snow Nov. 4, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Eielson’s airfield caters to the 168th Wing, one of the highest tasked re-fueling wings in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

Operation Noble Eagle is the extensive air defense effort designed to prevent Sept. 11, 2001-style air attacks in America, according to Otto Kreisher of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Eielson Air Force Base houses the 168th Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard, which has a fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers that act as alert aircraft in support of Operational Noble Eagle.

“Operation Noble Eagle in this sense is aerospace sovereignty,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Doyle, the 168th Operation Support Squadron commander. “We have the tankers at Eielson and we support the tankers with aircrew and maintenance.”

According to Doyle, the 168th Wing and the 354th Fighter Wing work diligently together to defend the airspace and control the sovereignty of the airspace for Alaska. It’s a huge total force operation between the guard and active duty components.

In order to have a successful mission, the 168th relies on various aspects of the 354th mission.

“The airfield is completely run by the 354th,” said Doyle. “From runway and airfield operations, to the snow barn and security forces. We all work together as a team to get the mission done and that teamwork is imperative for success.”

“Maintaining an airfield and executing a KC-135 tanker operation are both complex enterprises,” said Col. Todd Robbins, 354th FW vice commander. “Doing these things in interior Alaska in the winter, with its extreme temperatures and weather, introduces additional challenges you don’t have in other places. The outstanding Airmen of the 168th Wing and 354th FW work together as a team to make it happen regardless of what the environment throws at us.”

Operation Noble Eagle is a 365 day, 24/7 mission that cannot fail; through the combined efforts of active duty and guard Airmen at Eielson, this mission never will.