A DV a day… Vance lieutenant shares CAOC experiences

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brian Hill
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
For 2nd Lt. Amanda Finnegan, being deployed from Vance as a protocol officer for the Combined Air and Space Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, is a busy but great experience. 

The CAOC commands and controls airpower throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and 18 other nations. 

"Working in the CAOC is phenomenal," said Lieutenant Finnegan. "The first day when I stood on the operations floor and saw the entire air war playing out before me on the huge screens it was humbling. 

"Every Airman as well as our sister service and coalition partners are working towards this common goal that all comes together here in this one room, and I work right down the hall - it's the heartbeat of the (area of responsibility)." 

According to Lieutenant Finnegan, the CAOC protocol staff coordinates visits with general officers, coalition partners and foreign dignitaries. They also coordinate with the U.S. embassy in Doha, and all forward operating locations in the AOR. The CAOC averages one distinguished visitor per day. 

"The war is happening 24 hours a day, so there are commanders moving around in the AOR at all hours," said Lieutenant Finnegan. "Sometimes we may be receiving a DV in the middle of the night, but you have to remember that he or she has probably had twice as long a day as we have, so that puts the job into perspective." 

Being in a deployed environment, Lieutenant Finnegan also gets to perform many out-of-the-ordinary duties as well. Recently she was asked to assist in a cash count for finance - the total amount came to nearly $6 million - and she couldn't resist sending home a humorous e-mail to her family and friends, entitled, 'What I did at work today.' 

"Everyone wanted me to send them a big stack of cash after that," she said. "The CAOC finances the entire theater, so they have quite a lot on hand." 

When the lieutenant does get some time off, she takes advantage of the gulf weather and gets out to the pool. 

"The pool here is great, and a good way to beat the heat," she said. 

She also enjoys visiting the base ice cream parlor. 

"There is definitely a lot to do here," she said. "There are a lot of resources. The rooms are nice, and I'm not even on the really nice side with the hard dorms. The worst part is having to walk from my room to the bathroom." 

Time off isn't too abundant for Lieutenant Finnegan - she works sometimes seven days a week, and sometimes as much as 20 straight hours. 

Despite the hectic work schedule, Airmen assigned to Al Udeid do get the opportunity to experience the local culture. 

"We are able to go downtown for morale trips," she said. "Doha is a dichotomy of very expensive looking upper class areas and run-down lower class areas. There are some amazing restaurants and there is construction everywhere. The city is really growing. 

"For the most part, the people are very hospitable towards me as an American and a woman," she added. "But I have been refused service in one of the shops here. You have to remember where you are, and that this way of life dates back so far into the history of these people that it's ingrained in who they are. I try to be completely open minded and I think that's what has allowed me to enjoy some new experiences here, rather than to dwell on the cultural differences."