Combined Air Operation Centre (CAOC)

International Information

International Operation Name: Combined Air Operation Centre

International Mission Name: Combined Air Operation Centre (CAOC)

Mandating Organization: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Region Name: Europe

Location: Italy

Mission Date: 9 April 1993 - Present

Mission Mandate: The Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in Vicenza, Italy, was tasked with coordinating NATO's air support operations in the Balkans, initially over Bosnia-Herzegovina and later over Kosovo.

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (IMAGE)


Date: 21 December 2001 - 30 June 2002

CF Mission/Operation Notes: The Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) was first set up in 1993 to support Operation Deny Flight, NATO’s first combat air operation established in support of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) ground troops in the former Yugoslavia. Under Operation Deny Flight, more that 100,400 missions were flown between April 9, 1993 and December 20, 1995. Thereafter, more than 119,000 additional air missions were flown including 38,408 missions during the 78-day Allied Force air war in Kosovo that began on March 24, 1999.

Multiple NATO aerial operations in the Balkans subsequently required a centralized air operations organization on the ground and led to the creation of the Combined Air Operations Centre. The CAOC combines personnel from more than 13 NATO and non-NATO nations, including Russia, into a single multi-service and multinational command and control headquarters.

Since its creation, the operations center has provided air protection to ground troops, and supplied intelligence and reconnaissance information for the various commanders in theatre. First located in Vicenza, Italy, other CAOCs were later established in other locations. Canadian participation in the CAOC began with the deployment of personnel under Canadian mission Operation ECHO. Following the termination of Op ECHO, it became doctrinally necessary to stand-up a new operation (Op IMAGE) and Task Force (TF Vincenza) to provide national control and theatre support of the four CF personnel remaining in Italy as part of the Combined Air Operations Center. Four crisis establishment (CE) personnel worked directly in the CAOC in the same positions and under the same conditions as during Op ECHO.

In September 2001, the CAOC moved from Vicenza to Poggio Renatico, When the move to Poggio Renatico occurred, the CF contribution was reduced to three mission directors. For the next year Canadian Forces personnel served with the mission when BCAOC positions converted from CE to permanent establishment, after which Op IMAGE was terminated at the end of June 2002.

The CAOC continues to operate and provide guidance to NATO missions including helping to coordinate security efforts for the 2004 Olympics in Greece.

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