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Ramstein hosts NATO AWACS during force restructure

An E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft assigned to the E-3A Component at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany taxis on to the flightline Nov. 18, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The NATO AWACS visited Ramstein in order to familiarize NATO Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) leadership with its capabilities as the E-3A Component is scheduled to come under operational command of AIRCOM in fall 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

An E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft assigned to the E-3A Component at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany taxis on to the flightline Nov. 18, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The NATO AWACS visited Ramstein in order to familiarize NATO Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) leadership with its capabilities as the E-3A Component is scheduled to come under operational command of AIRCOM in fall 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Members of NATO Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) tour an E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) Nov. 18, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The AWACS is assigned to the E-3A Component at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany. The E-3A Component is scheduled to fall under AIRCOM operational control in fall 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Members of NATO Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) tour an E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) Nov. 18, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The AWACS is assigned to the E-3A Component at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany. The E-3A Component is scheduled to fall under AIRCOM operational control in fall 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Denmark air force Capt. Martin Ustrup, right, NATO E-3A Component E-3 Sentry weapons controller, uses a simulated screen to explain the systems of the airborne warning and control system (AWACS) to Denmark Maj. Michael Petersen, NATO Allied Air Command, Nov. 18, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The E-3A Component is NATO’s first multinational operational flying unit and provides surveillance, airborne command, control and communication for NATO operations and assurance of allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Denmark air force Capt. Martin Ustrup, right, NATO E-3A Component E-3 Sentry weapons controller, uses a simulated screen to explain the systems of the airborne warning and control system (AWACS) to Denmark Maj. Michael Petersen, NATO Allied Air Command, Nov. 18, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The E-3A Component is NATO’s first multinational operational flying unit and provides surveillance, airborne command, control and communication for NATO operations and assurance of allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Members of NATO Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) tour an E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) Nov. 18, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The AWACS is assigned to the E-3A Component at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany. The E-3A Component is scheduled to fall under AIRCOM operational control in fall 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Members of NATO Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) tour an E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) Nov. 18, 2015, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The AWACS is assigned to the E-3A Component at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany. The E-3A Component is scheduled to fall under AIRCOM operational control in fall 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- As part of its mission to enable theater and strategic airpower, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, often acts as host to other U.S. and allied units and aircraft.

On Nov. 18, Ramstein welcomed an E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft assigned to the E-3A Component at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany, and its crew for a visit.

The trip was initiated due to the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force's (NAEW&CF) organizational restructure, which is scheduled to transfer operational control of the E-3A Component to NATO Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) in fall 2016.

"This is a special visit to interface with our new parent organization, to show them what we do and what we bring to the fight," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Stephen Evelyn, E-3A Component AWACS weapons controller and fighter allocator.

Though the unit will fall directly under AIRCOM authority, they are still planned to operate out of Geilenkirchen.

The E-3A Component is currently one of two operational elements of the NAEW&CF. As NATO's first integrated, multinational flying unit, they provide surveillance, airborne command, control and communication for NATO operations and assurance of allied nations.

"The missions are very similar to what I flew in the (U.S.), difference being is the international environment that really sets NATO AWACS apart as a really special unit," Evelyn said. "There are not many units, other than headquarters or staff units, that (have) joint coalition missions."

Evelyn made note of the opportunity the E-3A Component members get to work with members from other countries, whose views on airpower are sometimes different than his own and derive from their countries experiences.

"Working in the international environment and with our NATO allies is really the coolest thing about working NATO AWACS," Evelyn said.

The visit is scheduled to include tours of the AWACS and a flight with AIRCOM leaders to give them a firsthand perspective of the capabilities of the aircraft and unit in their task to create and maintain theater awareness.