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ACC Commander Discusses New Air Force Concept

ACC Commander Discusses New Air Force Concept

By Staff Sgt. Tom Mullican, Air Combat Command Public Affairs, August 5, 1998.

Langley Air Force Base, Va. (ACCNS) - The Air Force is changing the way it does business. Expeditionary Aerospace Force is the Air Force concept for the 21st century. It's designed to cope with the high tempo of operations experienced since the Gulf War, said Gen. Dick Hawley, Air Combat Command commander.

"On any given day, we have anywhere from 3,000-5,000 people maintaining air bases in Southwest Asia, augmenting bases in Turkey, Latin America, Haiti - all kinds of places - for which we have no manpower authorizations," said Hawley. "Our (units) have been sending people to man these bases, and they (our bases) have to take those people out of hide."

To cope with today's expeditionary-world challenges, the Air Force will organize 10 Air Expeditionary Forces by fiscal year 2000.

"ACC is responsible for building the year 2000 AEF deployment schedule," said Hawley. "We will put that schedule together and propose a candidate composition list for the AEFs. We'll pick units from around the Air Force and link them to an AEF. An AEF might have units in it from ACC, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and from Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Air Forces Europe."

The advantage of the AEF concept is it that it allows the Air Force to give units more notice of when they will be on alert or deployed.

"One of the things we discovered with past commitments is we haven't been very good at giving people time to prepare themselves," the general said. "So we hope under this concept that we will be able to develop a rhythm of operations tempo so people will have adequate notice and long lead time. People will know when their unit goes on alert and will be prepared to enforce those no-fly sanctions in Iraq or whatever job it may be at that time. And, if they're not part of the alert AEF, then they'll be ops normal."

The EAF concept calls for two AEFs to be on alert at a time. Another two AEFs will be in the build up and training phase, preparing to go on alert to relieve the two that are engaged. The other six will be in various stages of training.

All combat units and most combat support units in the Air Force will become part of an AEF. The AEFs will be the ones to support those scheduled deployments, and unannounced pop-up deployments.

"AEF is all-purpose airpower," said Hawley. "It will have everything put together to make a complete package. Each AEF will have fighters, bombers, theater airlift, links to the surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, and stealth capabilities."

It can be tailored to fit a specific contingency.

"So, when we have a contingency, be it a non-combatant evacuation operation or a humanitarian relief operation, or preparing for combat operations as we did last fall in Iraq, an AEF will be able to handle it," said Hawley. "We will be able to put together a task-organized force from within that AEF structure to deal with any crisis that needs airpower."

While the AEF composition is being worked, manpower issues are also being considered so home bases are not left short-handed when its forces are part of a deployed AEF. Manpower positions the Air Force expects to save through competitive sourcing and privatization, headquarters manpower reductions and other initiatives will be allocated to about 20 units, he said.

"Those units will be the ones to support the 3,000-5,000 people who are always deployed overseas supporting operations like those in Southwest Asia," said Hawley. "So when (the units) send people, instead of having to take it out of hide and leaving everyone back home short-handed, it will come out of a robusted operation. So what's left back home will be about what it takes to run operations. (The units) will be manned to cover both home-front operations and a portion of deployment requirements.

"All support units across the board will be built up. They will have extra manning. They would be what we call a robusted base," said Hawley. "The base would have an extra 250-300 people in all those specialties that it takes to run a deployed operation."

With the high optempo since the Gulf War, units haven't been able to provide the needed services back home, particularly training.

"We have a shortage of trainers, the five-level specialists who train all of the new people we keep bringing in the Air Force," said Hawley. "Why are we short? We always send our more experienced people because we are going into a potential combat situation. It leaves too few people back home to train the three-levels.

"So this will work all of the problems caused by high optempo. It will give us more manning, especially in the support areas so we will have the kind of trainers we need to train people," said Hawley. "We'll have extra manning so when we send those people on deployments, the squadrons at home will still be fully manned."


How the Air Expeditionary Force will work under the Expeditionary Aerospace Force concept:

· Each AEF will look similar and have similar capabilities

· Two AEFs will be deployed or on alert at a time

· Another two AEFs will be in the build-up and training phase, preparing to go on alert to relieve the two that are engaged. The other six will be in various stages of training.

· When an AEF is preparing to go on alert, a portion will train for standing commitments, that is receive theater-specific training. The other AEF could focus on operations somewhere else. At the same time, a humanitarian package from either AEF or both might be trained. For example, part of the AEF might be preparing for humanitarian operations, while another part might be preparing for potential combat operations in Southwest Asia.

Each Air Expeditionary Force will be comprised of:

· Each AEF will have everything linked together to make a complete package - fighters, bombers, airlift, support units, links to surveillance, reconnaissance and stealth

· Units from each major command, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard could come together to form an AEF

· Within a wing, squadrons will be assigned to different AEFs

How manning will be effected:

· 15-20 "Robust Bases" (not yet selected) would have an extra 250-300 people assigned to support units

· When an AEF package deploys, many of the combat support specialists that go forward will come from the same bases as the operational forces

· Extra manning will leave home units manned sufficiently to maintain normal base operations without overloading non-deployed people

· People will know a year or more ahead of time when their AEF is scheduled for alert

· Extra manpower authorizations will come from positions saved through competitive sourcing and privatization, headquarters manpower reductions and other initiatives

· The assignment system will be evolved to try to rotate people through AEF bases

· It will give airmen, NCOs and officers a more predictable lifestyle.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).