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New facility, AOC upgrades boost headquarters’ ability

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- The Airmen and staff assigned to the Gen. George C. Kenney Headquarters officially moved into their new headquarters building June 2, marked with a building dedication ceremony at noon. 

The official move-in happened the day after the headquarters celebrated its one-year anniversary of becoming a provisional warfighting headquarters. 

“While this move is important in strengthening our organizational identity, it is crucial that we maintain the high-level of cooperation and partnership we have with PACAF Headquarters,” said Lt. Gen. David Deptula, Kenney Headquarters Commander. 

The new building, located between the Pacific Air Operations Center in Hangar 3 and Hangar 7 on Hickam, is a state-of-the-art pre-engineered building. The design is based on the layout of 42 modules put together to form one big building, and has more than 30,000 square feet of space for offices, a conference room and communications infrastructure. 

“The beautiful thing about the new building is it creates a place where KHQ can have an identity,” said Col. Mark Tapper, KHQ Chief of Staff. “We were spread among five different buildings, in different rooms, floors and wings. We will no longer have to borrow conference rooms and office space.” 

The structure took a little more than one year to complete from its initial conception. Design and sizing requirements started in April 2005. Although the new building is a hardened structure, it’s meant to be a temporary fix for the next four to five years while a permanent building can be designed and built. 

“In the meantime, it will give us better synergy and unity of mission,” said Colonel Tapper. 

The PEB unifies the Air Force Forces staff, while its neighbor – Hangar 3 – brings together the staff that runs the PAOC. 

Members of KHQ’s 56th Air and Space Communications Squadron spent last summer executing a $37 million dollar upgrade project on the PAOC. That renovation took place July – November 2005, and with 300 people and a hectic 24/7 schedule, they had less than five months to upgrade the KHQ PAOC. 

“Basically, we gutted the facility and rebuilt it,” said Maj. Rocky Favorito, project manager. “The AOC is housed in a vintage World War II-era aircraft hanger – there was a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.” 

Before starting, the facility had to be vacated, requiring the relocation of 350 operators and systems, and 290 network drops in two weeks. 

The project itself consisted of two major areas: Upgrading facility infrastructure and bringing the AOC systems to full baseline compliance. 

The facility had outdated electric circuitry and transformers, an inadequate cooling and ventilation system for the $25 million Falconer weapon system, and a communication architecture riddled with single points of failure. It was the logical starting point. 

Six 115-ton air handlers were installed and all of the air units were moved outside, freeing internal space for operations, and the digital controls provide the ability to monitor and control temperature in user areas. Two fully-redundant electrical rooms were built with a facility uninterruptible power supply and automatic transfer switch. Contractors installed 75 miles of conduit and 50 miles of wire. 

“For the communications system, we ran about 250 miles of fiber optical cabling,” Major Favorito said. “It’s enough fiber to go around the shoreline of Oahu, and still have some left over.” 

Other facility upgrades included an enhanced fire alarm and a “giant voice” paging system. A facility-wide audio/visual system brought in forty 61-inch plasma screens and a 40-foot data wall, and a brand new radio room included a $40,000 paint job – shielded paint – and an antenna farm with a 29-antenna mounting capacity. 

The upgrades to the Falconer system required five new server rooms and fiber for four networks to include coalition connectivity. This included installing clean power, air conditioning, cable pathways in the ceiling and under raised floors, server racks and network backbone fiber. 

“We built the four networks – NIPR, SIPR, JWICS and coalition – from the ground up,” said Major Favorito. 

Additionally, workers installed 46 C2 and ISR systems and 1,500 client workstations.
Other upgrades included new furniture to nearly half the rooms, power and communications lines extended to the furniture, a new “Battlecab” on the AOC floor for senior leadership command and control, and enhanced lighting throughout the facility.
Overall, the upgrades drove a 1,000-percent increase in capability for the PAOC. 

Major Favorito said that prior to the upgrade, the organization had “bits and pieces of an AOC.” 

“We were organizationally a Falconer AOC, but never had all the systems,” he said. “This brought us to compliance with the Falconer AOC weapon system baseline.” 

The project was a huge success. In just four and a half months, the PAOC was transformed from a third-rate facility into a world-class operations center. 

The two facilities solidify the KHQ’s place in the Pacific. From its February support to the Philippines after a mudslide, to assisting Australia with recent operations in East Timor, to providing disaster relief for the May Indonesian earthquake, Kenney Headquarters has become recognized as the center of air and space power excellence in the Pacific. 

“We must continue to build and maintain close relationships with our sister services and coalition partners as we plan and execute operations,” General Deptula said. “We help maintain peace in the Pacific by providing humanitarian assistance such as the relief we provided after the South Asia tsunami; by demonstrating our resolve through our continuous bomber presence; by assuring our allies and partners of our commitments to maintaining peace in the region; and, by continually exercising our capabilities to ensure we are prepared for any contingency.”