Staff Sergeant John Brannon, United States Air Force

2023 U.S. Missile Defender of the Year

SSgt Brannon is an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Technician and Senior Air Defense Technician, 603rd Air Operations Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He leads 16 personnel comprising the senior command and control element responsible for 24/7 air and missile defense of 52 EUCOM and AFRICOM countries. The 603d Air Operations Center is the core of the Falconer Weapon System for United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.

SSgt Brannon led his team as the senior reporting element of EUROPEAN AIR MISSILE DEFENSE Exercise 2023, which realized EUCOM’s operational acceptance of Aegis Ashore Poland. By executing this mission in accordance with Phase 3 of Presidentially Directed “Phased Adaptive Approach” to European missile defense, he helped ensure the safety of 10.4M miles of NATO, 12% of the world’s population and innumerable United States interests.

SSgt Brannon coordinated 83 mission capability changes, managed 400 ballistic missile event reports, which enabled the Ballistic Missile Defense System to respond to 116 detected threats. In doing so, John achieved the Regional Air Defense Commander’s priorities by strengthening ally and partner interoperability while successfully directing critical assets during heightened tensions in the Ukraine.

SSgt Brannon managed the division’s transfer of a 10-year EUCOM ballistic missile defense mission to CENTCOM. He facilitated the handover of the Regional Air Defense Commander’s senior reporting agency, charged with managing a $3 billion integrated air and missile defense kill chain, and integral to upholding the U.S. commitment to bilateral defense cooperation agreements.

SSgt Brannon is originally from Panama City Beach, Florida and received his Associates in Applied Sciences degree in Intelligence Studies and Technology in 2019. He enlisted in 2018 and served four years as a Signals Intelligence Analyst before retraining into Battle Management Operations in 2022. Prior to his current position, he served as an Operations Supervisor for 39 Airmen, 13th Intelligence Squadron, Beale Air force Base, California.

Defenders of the Year