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D.C. Air National Guard passes 5,000 alert missions

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FB: Staying on Alert. The airmen tasked with protecting Washington, D.C., have just passed 5,000 alert missions since 9/11.

The airmen unit tasked with protecting the nation's capital recently hit a major milestone: 5,000 flights to responding to potential threats to Washington, D.C., since Sept. 11, 2001.

The 113th Wing of the D.C. Air National Guard, based at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on March 21 scrambled for its 5,000th alert mission, the wing announced Wednesday today. The wing's aerospace control alert mission was launched after the 9/11 Sept. 2001 attacks to protect U.S. airspace and provide 24/7 alert teams ready to launch F-16s to protect the capital.

The wing is the first of 15 across the country tasked with aerospace control alert to hit the 5,000 flights milestone.

"As we approached this milestone of 5,000 events and with the region we protect here, our operational tempo is more than any other alert center in the country," Lt. Col. John Vargas, commander of the wing's alert mission, said in a release.

"If you add up all of their alert calls and double that, that doesn't come close to the amount of activity we have had," Vargas said.

The D.C. Air National Guard at Andrews has a command post control team to listen for alerts, along with security forces to protect the location and aircraft. Pilots and maintainers remain on constant alert to run to an aircraft and launch within minutes when an alert comes in.

"Every day that we come down here to the alert facilities, we don't come with the mindset that this is another day at the office," Vargas said in the release. "We arrive with the mindset that today is the day, the day that my actions are going to prevent an attack on our nation's capital. Every second that we are able to save in our response is a second that we know could be the difference in mission success."

There are 15 total units across the country tasked with aerospace alert, but the D.C. unit has been the busiest of all of them, according to the 113th Wing.

"If you add up all of their alert calls and double that, that doesn't come close to the amount of activity we have had," Vargas said. "This is a welcomed result of being next to the nation's capital."

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