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Korea’s Air Operations Center welcomes new commander

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, Seventh Air Force commander, passes the 607th Air Operations Center guidon to Col. Christopher Russell, incoming commander, during an assumption of command ceremony at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 5, 2019. The passing of the guidon symbolizes a change of leadership and responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, Seventh Air Force commander, passes the 607th Air Operations Center guidon to Col. Christopher Russell, incoming commander, during an assumption of command ceremony at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 5, 2019. The passing of the guidon symbolizes a change of leadership and responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)

Members of the 607th Air Operations Center render a first salute to their new commander, U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Russell, during his assumption of command ceremony at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 5, 2019. Russell assumed commander of the most-forward deployed AOC in the world. The 607th’s mission is to plan, command and control, execute and assess air, space and information operations to meet Secretary of Defense, Pacific Air Force Forces and USFK taskings across the spectrum of military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)

Members of the 607th Air Operations Center render a first salute to their new commander, U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Russell, during his assumption of command ceremony at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 5, 2019. Russell assumed commander of the most-forward deployed AOC in the world. The 607th’s mission is to plan, command and control, execute and assess air, space and information operations to meet Secretary of Defense, Pacific Air Force Forces and USFK taskings across the spectrum of military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, Seventh Air Force commander, speaks at an assumption of command ceremony for the 607th Air Operations Center at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 5, 2019. Wilsbach spoke about Col. Christopher Russell, the incoming commander, who has commanded operations centers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, Seventh Air Force commander, speaks at an assumption of command ceremony for the 607th Air Operations Center at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 5, 2019. Wilsbach spoke about Col. Christopher Russell, the incoming commander, who has commanded operations centers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, Seventh Air Force commander, speaks at an assumption of command ceremony for the 607th Air Operations Center at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 5, 2019. Wilsbach spoke about Col. Christopher Russell, the incoming commander, who has commanded operations centers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, Seventh Air Force commander, speaks at an assumption of command ceremony for the 607th Air Operations Center at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 5, 2019. Wilsbach spoke about Col. Christopher Russell, the incoming commander, who has commanded operations centers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --

Facing a formation of 607th Air Operations Center Airmen, U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Russell assumed command of the unit here Friday.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, Seventh Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony and elaborated on the importance and mission of the U.S.’s most-forward deployed AOC.

“The 607th AOC has played a key role in maintaining peace in the region and is critical to the defense of Korea,” said Wilsbach. “The Airmen here are truly an asymmetric command and control advantage no adversary can match. [Russell’s] vast knowledge and leadership will prove invaluable to maximizing the capabilities of our AOC Weapon System.”

Russell, a Master Navigator and Weapons System Officer with more than 2,000 flying hours and combat experience in the F-15E Strike Eagle, says he’s fortunate to command such a vital part of the Korean air power team.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to lead Airmen in our Air Force, especially when you get the chance to lead such an incredibly talented group like we have in the 607th AOC,” said the 24-year AF veteran and Colorado Springs, Colo. native. “It’s at the tip of the spear for operational level command and control.”

Leading Airmen is not new to Russell, who has served at various AOCs world-wide and most recently commanded the 25th Air Force, 625th Operations Center in San Antonio, Texas.

"I am more than excited to be joining Team Sabre,” said Russell. “[My goal is to] increase the speed and agility of our joint fires and continue to fortify our ROK Air Force partnership.”

The 607th is vital to the U.S. and ROK Alliance, a bond that has ensured safety, security and stability on the peninsula since 1953.

“Our Airmen are in lock-step with our Korean counterparts.

Together, they lead the way by incorporating multi-domain command and control capabilities to monitor the airspace over Korea for threats and violations of the armistice,” said Wilsbach.

The AOC’s mission is to plan, command and control, execute and assess air, space and information operations to meet Secretary of Defense, Pacific Air Force Forces and U.S. Forces Korea taskings across the spectrum of military operations.

“Our nations have stood shoulder-to-shoulder, enforcing the armistice, and continually deterring aggression,” said Wilsbach. “Our ironclad resolve, and commitment to our Alliance during this historic time of both aggression and diplomacy, has given our leaders the strongest possible hand in the defense of Korea and the pursuit of peace.”