Guard JAG helps guard the Homeland

  • Published
  • By Major Andrew Scott
  • 601 AOC/PA
From the cockpit of the mighty F-15 Eagle to the courtroom, Colonel Jim Demarest's journey to the JAG Corps is not what you might call typical.

Demarest began his Air Force career as an Active-Duty F-15 pilot stationed at Bitburg Air Base, Germany. It was there that he sat alert, ready to respond to aircraft entering restricted airspace in support of the NATO mission. Although he is now stateside, Demarest is still helping to defend the skies, this time over the continental United States as he supports Operation NOBLE EAGLE in the 601st Air Operations Center (AOC) located at Tyndall AFB, Florida.  His past experience as an F-15 pilot gave Demarest a unique opportunity to become the first JAG qualified to sit as a CCO on the AOC's operations floor.

AOC daily ops floor activities are spearheaded by the CCO, who serves as the Combined Forces Air Component Commander's (CFACC) representative responsible for ensuring execution of the AOC mission.  As CCO, Demarest leads a combined team of US and Canadian military members, and US civilians, responsible for ensuring all Continental U.S. air domain operations are executed in accordance with current CFACC directed Air Tasking Order procedures and guidance. 

"I am honored and humbled to serve as the AOC's first JAG qualified CCO," said Demarest. "For me this is the opportunity of a lifetime, combining two major pieces of my military career, my operational experience as fighter pilot, and my knowledge as a JAG.  It speaks directly to the capabilities the National Guard's JAG Corps has at our disposal."

Demarest spent 10 years as an F-15 pilot.  He is a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School and Desert Storm veteran.  In 1992 he left Active Duty and went to Cornell Law School.  Now he serves as a drill status guardsman providing part-time support to the 601st AOC, which provides 24/7 command and control of air and space assets in support of NORAD and USNORTHCOM missions.

"At the end of the day, being a member of the Air National Guard has afforded me the opportunity to continue to serve my country," said Demarest. "And it's pretty cool to have a guard JAG leading a team guarding the homeland."

The 601st AOC is responsible for detecting, deterring, defending and if necessary, defeating any aviation threat to the citizens of the United States and to U.S. critical infrastructure. The AOC is primarily manned by the Florida Air National Guard's 101st Air and Space Operations Group.