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News | Aug. 8, 2022

E-4B NAOC team celebrates 60th anniversary with gala

By Justin Oakes 8th Air Force and J-GSOC Public Affairs

The 595th Command and Control Group and NAOC co-commanders group alongside community leaders and defense industry sponsors hosted a gala in Omaha, Neb., to commemorate the National Airborne Operations Center’s 60th anniversary, Aug. 6.

More than 750 people -- comprised of active and former 595th C2G and NAOC members, defense industry partners, and Air Force Global Strike Command and U.S. Strategic Command leadership attended -- where former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered remarks.

“This particular group represents the very best of America,” said Hagel. “You continue to lead and make sacrifices because your commitment to this country, this way of life, is stronger than anything else and that’s why you are role models.”

Hagel recalled frequently relying on the E-4B and NAOC to fly across the globe (known as global command and control missions) to meet with foreign dignitaries and leaders. Approximately once a month on average.

“The E-4B was my preferred mode of transportation,” said Hagel. Not surprising considering the NAOC has the ability to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world via numerous methods.

“The global command and control mission is just one of many associated with the E-4B NAOC, however, the majority of missions we can’t discuss because of their classification,” said Col. Brian Golden, 595th C2G and NAOC commander. “Just know that we stand ready to execute 24/7 at any time.”

The NAOC, which is located aboard the E-4B, serves as a key component of the National Military Command System for the President, Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by providing a survivable, airborne, nuclear command, control and communications center.

What is now the NAOC mission originally began in February 1962 as the National Emergency Airborne Command Post (NEACP) aboard a different airframe, the KC-135A.

However, one aspect of the Nightwatch program has remained the same. There is always at least one jet on 24-hour alert, 7 days a week, with a global watch team of more than 75 personnel from all of the Services at one of many select bases throughout the world.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the men and women from all the different Services who have operated and sustained the E-4B and NOAC mission,” said Golden. “This celebration is meant to honor their efforts and sacrifice, which has kept watch over our nation for six decades.”