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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The nerve center of air operations at Osan Air Base is a more than three-story high inner sanctum where dozens of personnel working in subdued lighting sit in stadium-like seating before computer monitors that connect them with their counterparts in the Korean theater and elsewhere in the world.

In front of them from floor to ceiling is a “data wall” with 14 video screens that display real-time information important to the air campaign: maps of the battlespace, aircraft status, weather conditions, location of friendly and enemy forces and other data.

“It’s basically the Information Age in action,” said Army Lt. Col. Philip McCutcheon, deputy commander of the 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment at Osan Air Base, who is an Army liaison officer assigned to the air operations center.

Battle information flows into the Hardened Theater Air Control Center’s global computer network from a range of sources, including troops on the ground, aircraft and satellites that detect enemy movement and intelligence services.

“The amount of data that flies into this place is incredible,” McCutcheon said.

As an Army officer working in the HTACC, McCutcheon is an example of that “joint” mix of services.

That, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Wood and other airpower experts, is vital for the air operations center to carry out its main functions. Wood is the U.S. Forces Korea air component commander and also commands 7th Air Force at Osan Air Base.


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