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653 ELSW, 950 ELSG earn AF Outstanding Unit honors

HANSCOM AFB, Mass. -- The Air Force has announced that two Electronic Systems Center organizations have earned AF Outstanding Unit awards. 

The service cited a mammoth list of accomplishments that included "enabling worldwide net-centric operations," in selecting the 653rd Electronic Systems Wing as an AFOUA recipient. The 950th Electronic Systems Group, ESC's other winner, was recognized for making major advances to the United States' preeminent intelligence processing and dissemination tool, the Distributed Common Ground System.
The awards recognized contributions from both the wing and the group that not only aided the Air Force, but also various joint partners and even organizations outside of DoD. The 653 ELSW award covers accomplishments during calendar years 2006 and 2007 while the one for the 950 ELSG covers April 1, 2006, to March 31, 2008. 

"The 653rd's well-deserved Outstanding Unit distinction illuminates the essential work being done there to provide comprehensive global connectivity for Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the joint fight," said Electronic Systems Center Commander Lt. Gen. Ted Bowlds. "The work this wing accomplishes is broad, with tentacles that reach out and touch virtually every corner of DoD. However, it's their ability to tie us all together, so that we all find and intuitively understand the information we need, exactly when we need it, that makes the biggest difference." 

The general also offered high praise for the 950th. 

"The 950th fielded a generation-leaping enhancement to the Distributed Common Ground System, which provided warfighters with unprecedented worldwide, network-centric access to real-time sensor data," General Bowlds said. "These advances proved absolutely critical to U.S. and coalition efforts in the Global War on Terrorism." 

When Central Command Air Forces put out a call for an Urgent Operational Need, the group delivered its DCGS improvements were in less than 90 days, exceeding performance requirements and saving costs associated with a scheduled follow-on system.

Additionally, an upgrade to Integrated Broadcast Service dissemination provided advanced situational awareness, threat avoidance, survivability and lethality of United States forces, according to the award citation. The group also provided a host of highly-classified electronic and cyber warfare capabilities to national users, enhancing high-priority capabilities world-wide. This work directly contributed to the fulfillment of national objectives.

"It's an honor for the 950th to be a recipient of the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award -- even more special to be the first, and only, group at ESC to win since the reorganization in 2005," said 950 ELSG Commander Col. David DeNofrio. "Earning this award is but a reflection of the units' hard work and dedication to fielding the best capabilities to meet warfighter needs. 950th: great mission, great people, great unit."

According the 653rd's citation, "During this period, the [wing's] professionalism, expertise and efficiency were instrumental in delivering decisive, war-winning capabilities to our combat Air Forces and interagency partners to meet national security objectives."

The extensive list of accomplishments includes the very rapid procurement of 1,000 interoperable, high-tech radios for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, better known as MRAPs. This speedy acquisition enabled the vehicles to be deployed into theater quickly. The list also included delivery of 16,000 Combat Survivor Evader Locator radios to joint operational forces worldwide. CSELs have been credited with saving more than 30 lives during combat survival rescues. 

In addition to such direct combat contributions, the Air Force also lauded the wing for its contributions to cyber defense and for its work to advance air mobility with state-of-the-art air traffic control and landing systems. 

The 653rd also moved forward in building and sustaining overarching communications networks, including a comprehensive airborne network and the Global Information Grid. Satellite communication terminals, including the Family of Beyond Line of Sight terminals, known as FAB-T, were also highlighted for recognition, as was work on data link refinements, network-enabled weaponry support, cryptographic modernization and many more initiatives. 

"This award only proves what I said a couple of months ago, when I took over as the director of this great wing, which is that we have so very many fine people, as well as some of the most critical and well-run programs in the Air Force," said Ron Mason. "My hat's off to my predecessor, Bruce Hevey, to my deputy, Col. Mark Murphy, and to all members of the wing leadership team who helped make this happen. But most of all, I'd like to thank the fantastic members of the 653rd, who continue to do what it takes to be the best, and to provide America's warfighters with the capabilities they need."