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12th Air Force prepares for Blue Flag exercise

The 612th Air and Space Operations Center provides command and control of air and space power in USSOUTHCOM's area of responsibility, to include 31 countries covering a sixth of the world's land mass. The $55 million facility, which spans 26,750 square ft., operates 24-hours-a-day to support joint and coalition efforts in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Justin Brockhoff / Released)

The 612th Air and Space Operations Center provides command and control of air and space power in USSOUTHCOM's area of responsibility, to include 31 countries covering a sixth of the world's land mass. The $55 million facility, which spans 26,750 square ft., operates 24-hours-a-day to support joint and coalition efforts in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Justin Brockhoff / Released)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 612th Air and Space Operations Center is currently preparing for a Blue Flag exercise. The expected dates of the exercise are February 5-15.

Blue Flag exercises are used to certify the 612th AOC as a combined air and space operations center and to certify Lt. Gen. Robin Rand as the combined forces air component commander.

In the weeks leading up to the exercise, the units in the CAOC will continue their daily duties while also running through system checks and small part time taskers. This is in preparation for the inspection team from the 505th Command and Control Wing, Hurlburt Field, Fla.

The 612th AOC will be running 24-hour operations during the exercise and will be receiving support from the 183rd Fighter Wing in order to occupy all manning positions. The 183rd FW is a part of the Illinois National Guard.

During the exercise the different divisions in the CAOC will be working together on simulated flights and missions. The intelligence reconnaissance, Airman mobility, combat plans, strategy, and combat operations divisions are among those taking part in the exercise.

"This exercise is important for us, because it will validate our training plan and the C2 capabilities," said Airman 1st Class Nathan Stephenson, 612th AOC PRCC controller.

The upcoming Blue Flag exercise is critical for the 612th AOC because they will not get another chance to test for two years.