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Reserve AWACS unit breaks ground on new facility

Officials from the 513th Air Control Group, Tinker Air Force Base, Air Force Reserve, Fortis Networks, Inc. and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gathered to break ground on the new operations facility April 14 during a ceremony in the field east of the 72nd Air Base Wing Headquarters, Bldg. 460. The 32,000 sq. ft. facility will allow the currently physically separated units to have a consolidated Air Control Group Headquarters, Operations Support Flight and Airborne Air Control Squadron facility.  The building is scheduled to be completed by January 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jon Quinlan)

Officials from the 513th Air Control Group, Tinker Air Force Base, Air Force Reserve, Fortis Networks, Inc. and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gathered to break ground on the new operations facility April 14 during a ceremony in the field east of the 72nd Air Base Wing Headquarters, Bldg. 460. The 32,000 sq. ft. facility will allow the currently physically separated units to have a consolidated Air Control Group Headquarters, Operations Support Flight and Airborne Air Control Squadron facility. The building is scheduled to be completed by January 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jon Quinlan)

Officials from Tinker Air Force Base, Air Force Reserve, Fortis Networks, Inc. and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers break ground for the future 513th Air Control Group operations building here during a ceremony April 14, 2016.
Pictured left to right is Col. Richard Pratt, Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District commander, Col. Bradley Bird, 552nd Air Control Wing vice commander, Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Davis, 513th Air Control Group command chief, Clarence McAllister, Fortis Networks, Inc., Col. David  Robertson, 513th Air Control Group commander, Lt. Col. Jennifer Cress, 513th Operations Support Squadron commander, Cathy Scheirman, 72nd Air Base Wing Civil Engineer Directorate chief and Lt. Col. Jim Mattey, 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron director of operations.
(U.S. Air Force Photo/Maj. Jon Quinlan)

Officials from Tinker Air Force Base, Air Force Reserve, Fortis Networks, Inc. and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers break ground for the future 513th Air Control Group operations building here during a ceremony April 14, 2016. Pictured left to right is Col. Richard Pratt, Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District commander, Col. Bradley Bird, 552nd Air Control Wing vice commander, Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Davis, 513th Air Control Group command chief, Clarence McAllister, Fortis Networks, Inc., Col. David Robertson, 513th Air Control Group commander, Lt. Col. Jennifer Cress, 513th Operations Support Squadron commander, Cathy Scheirman, 72nd Air Base Wing Civil Engineer Directorate chief and Lt. Col. Jim Mattey, 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron director of operations. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Maj. Jon Quinlan)

Col. John Trnka, former 513th Air Control Group commander and Col. David Robertson,  513th ACG current commander discuss the new 513th ACG operations facility at the site of the ground breaking.  Col. Trnka initial worked to get the 513th ACG building prioritized ten years ago. (Courtesy photo)

Col. John Trnka, former 513th Air Control Group commander and Col. David Robertson, 513th ACG current commander discuss the new 513th ACG operations facility at the site of the ground breaking. Col. Trnka initial worked to get the 513th ACG building prioritized ten years ago. (Courtesy photo)

Col. David Robertson, commander of the 513th Air Control Group delivers a speech during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new operations facility April 14, 2016.  The 513th ACG is an associate Reserve unit, which augments the 552nd with crews and maintenance personnel for the E-3 Sentry, Airborne Warning and Control System, also known as AWACS. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jon Quinlan)

Col. David Robertson, commander of the 513th Air Control Group delivers a speech during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new operations facility April 14, 2016. The 513th ACG is an associate Reserve unit, which augments the 552nd with crews and maintenance personnel for the E-3 Sentry, Airborne Warning and Control System, also known as AWACS. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jon Quinlan)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Officials from the 513th Air Control Group, Tinker Air Force Base, Air Force Reserve, Fortis Networks, Inc. and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gathered to break ground on the new operations facility April 14 during a ceremony in the field east of the 72nd Air Base Wing Headquarters, Bldg. 460.

The groundbreaking date coincided with the 68th birthday of the Air Force Reserve. The Air Force Reserve was created as a separate component on April 14, 1948, when the Army Air Corps Reserve was transferred to the Air Force.

At the ceremony, Airmen from the 513th ACG discussed the importance of the facility’s role in future Air Force Reserve command and control operations.

 “It is meaningful to go from being eliminated two short years ago, to being written back into the budget and getting a new building as well,” said Col. David Robertson, commander of the 513th ACG. “It emphasizes the importance and the legacy that the 513th has when it comes to supporting the command and control mission for our country.”

The 32,000 sq. ft. facility will allow the currently physically separated units to have a consolidated Air Control Group Headquarters, Operations Support Flight and Airborne Air Control Squadron facility.  The building is scheduled to be completed by January 2018.

Project Manager, Joe Wade, 507th Civil Engineer Squadron, said he initiated the military construction project back in 2010 once the need was determined for a larger and more up-to-date facility.

 “It’s a big project,” said Wade. “We planted the seed for this new facility six years ago. It was deemed a priority and has steadily gained traction. Now, here we are at the groundbreaking stage.”

According to 513th ACG Executive officer, Lt. Col. Ralph Hawkins, combining the units within the 513th under one roof to get them closer to their associated active duty unit, the 552nd Air Control Wing, is a step in the right direction.

The 513th ACG is an associate Reserve unit, which augments the 552nd with crews and maintenance personnel for the E-3 Sentry, Airborne Warning and Control System, also known as AWACS.

The 513th Air Control Group was activated in 1996 to provide theater and Air Force commanders with trained aircrews and maintenance personnel and systems for airborne surveillance, warning and control of U.S. and allied military aviation assets.

The Tulsa District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to manage the construction through their military construction program, which provides engineering design and construction for a wide range of facilities for military customers in Oklahoma and northern portions of Texas, according to their website.

 Hawkins said the new construction is a good omen for the future of the unit.

 “The new operations building is a sign that the 513th will be around for the long term,” said Hawkins