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and Control
Air Force Doctrine Document 2–8
16 February 2001
This document complements related discussion found in Joint
Publications 0–2, Unified Action Armed Forces (UNAAF ); JP 3–30
(formerly JP 3–56.1), Command and Control for Joint Air Operations; and
JP 6–0, Doctrine for Command, Control, Communications, and Computer
(C4) Systems Support to Joint Operations.
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Command and Control, AFDD2-8, This document
compliments Joint Pubs 0-2, 3-30, 3-56-1, and 6-0
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OPR: HQ AFDC/DR (Maj Robert A. McCrory)
Certified by: AFDC/CC (Maj Gen Lance L. Smith)
Pages: 70
Distribution: F
Approved by: MICHAEL E. RYAN, General, USAF
Chief of Staff
16 FEBRUARY 2001
Command and control (C2) operations represent the execution
direction of the commander’s warfighting intent. Leveraging the
strength gained from air, space, and information operations demands
responsive and robust command and control. With it we have decision
dominance and without it we risk being out-maneuvered and potentially
Effective C2 is central to delivering Air Force capability to the joint
team. Increasingly, airmen are called upon to contribute their
perspective, broad insight, and a distinct understanding of the global
environment, theater battlespace, operational strategies, and tactical
employment necessary to support joint force commanders. It allows
our forces to control what moves through air and space; engage adversary
targets anywhere, anytime; control and exploit information to our nation’s
advantage; deliver desirable effects with acceptable risk and minimal
collateral damage; rapidly position forces anywhere in the world; and
sustain flexible and effective combat operations. Understanding the contents
of Air Force Doctrine Document 2-8, Command and Control, will assist
airmen in planning and executing effective aerospace operations.
The seamless integration of air, space, and information operations is
only feasible through well-planned and executed command and control.
Airmen must seize and maintain the initiative made possible by
our nation’s being a global aerospace power. Take time to read our
doctrine, understand it, and use it—this is important.
General, USAF
Chief of Staff
16 February 2001
INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………….. v
CHAPTER ONE—Foundations of Command and Control for
Aerospace Operations ……………………………………………………………….. 1
Command and Control Defined ………………………………………………… 1
Command Defined ………………………………………………………………….. 2
Control Defined ………………………………………………………………………. 3
Command and Control Principles and Tenets ……………………………… 3
Unity of Command………………………………………………………………. 3
Centralized Control and Decentralized Execution ……………………. 5
Informed and Timely Decision Making ………………………………….. 8
Command and Control Functions ……………………………………………… 9
The Aerospace Environment …………………………………………………… 10
Expeditionary Aerospace Force (EAF)………………………………………..11
Command and Control Systems ………………………………………………. 12
US Air Force Command and Control Operations ……………………….. 13
CHAPTER TWO—Command and Control Planning, Processes,
and Systems ……………………………………………………………………………. 15
Planning and Deciding …………………………………………………………… 15
Decision Models ……………………………………………………………………. 17
Command and Control System Characteristics ………………………….. 18
Interoperability …………………………………………………………………. 19
Sustainability …………………………………………………………………….. 21
Survivability ……………………………………………………………………… 22
CHAPTER THREE—Command and Control in US Air Force
Operations ………………………………………………………………………………. 25
Expeditionary Air Force Operational Command and Control ………. 27
Theater Operational Command and Control …………………………….. 28
Command and Control of Reachback and Distributed Operations .. 31
Combat Support Command and Control …………………………………… 34
Nuclear Operational Command and Control …………………………….. 35
Space Operational Command and Control ………………………………… 36
Air Mobility Command and Control …………………………………………. 37
Special Operations Command and Control ……………………………….. 38
Information Operations Command and Control ………………………… 40
CHAPTER FOUR—Equipping and Preparing Command and
Control Operators……………………………………………………………………. 43
Equipping C2 Operators …………………………………………………………. 43
Training for C2 Operators ……………………………………………………….. 44
Training Responsibilities ………………………………………………………… 45
C2 Exercise Training ………………………………………………………………. 45
CHAPTER FIVE—Conclusion ………………………………………………….. 47
Suggested Readings …………………………………………………………………. 49
Appendix—Examples of Air Force Organizations Not Assigned to
Combatant Commands ……………………………………………………………. 51
Glossary ………………………………………………………………………………….. 53
Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 2-8, Command and Control, was
prepared under the direction of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF).
It establishes doctrinal guidance for organizing and employing air, space,
and informational capabilities at the operational level of conflict across
the full range of military operations to produce the desired effects
regardless of where the platforms reside, fly, or orbit. This integration
provides the synergy needed for decision dominance. It is the essence of
our nation’s asymmetric advantage. Together, the keystone publications collectively form the foundation from which commanders plan
and execute assigned aerospace missions.
This AFDD applies to all Air Force military and civilian personnel
(includes Air Force Reserve Command [AFRC] and Air National Guard
[ANG] units and members). The doctrine in this document is authoritative but not directive. It provides guidance on how command and control
is used to conduct aerospace operations in peace and war. Commanders
should consider both the circumstances of the particular mission along
with the contents of this doctrine document before making decisions.
The US Air Force provides aerospace forces that are used across the
full range of military operations at the strategic, operational, and tactical
levels and across the spectrum of engagement. AFDD 2-8 discusses the
principles and tenets of US Air Force command and control that
are essential to planning and executing missions assigned by
senior commanders. More detailed guidance can be found in Air Force
Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) documents and US Air Force
Instructions (AFIs).
He who has the capability to control the forces, the battlespace,
and the effects must inevitably command.
Michael E. Ryan, General, USAF Chief of Staff
Early twentieth century aerospace pioneers recognized that air
warfare requires an intuitive and fast decision cycle. The Clausewitz
concept of the “genius of the commanders” can be separated into
human and operational aspects. This document details the operational
aspects of command and control. AFDD 1-3, Leadership covers the
human aspects. The theme of this document is that command and
control is an essential and integral part of warfighting that
requires careful planning and execution to be effective.
Understanding command and control (C2) requires examining the
definition found in Joint Publication (JP) 1-02, DOD Dictionary of Military
and Associated Terms:
The war in the air is the true war of movement, in which swift
intuition, swifter decision, and still swifter execution are needed. It
is the kind of warfare in which the outcome will be largely dependent
upon the commander.
Giulio Douhet
The Command of the Air
Command and control is the exercise of authority and
direction by a properly designated commander over
assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of the
mission. Command and control functions are performed
through an arrangement of personnel, equipment, communications, facilities, and procedures employed by a
commander in planning, directing, coordinating, and
controlling forces and operations in the accomplishment
of the mission. Also called C2.
This definition acknowledges three predominant categories by
using the words “personnel, equipment, communications, facilities, and
procedures.” The first category is personnel, which covers the human
aspects of command and control. The second category is the technology
element, which covers the equipment, communications, and facilities needed
to overcome the war-fighting problems of integrating actions across space and
time. Technology elements tend to dominate command and control
doctrine, because high technology characterizes American warfare.
The third category, labeled in this document as “processes,” encompasses
“procedures.” This AFDD extracts doctrine concepts from generalized
command and control processes. The details of command and control
processes and associated procedures are found in tactics, techniques,
and procedures documents and other instructional publications. Personnel, technology, and processes must all come together to efficiently
execute command and control functions.
The definition of command is found in JP 1-02.
The authority that a commander in the Armed
Forces lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue
of rank or assignment. Command includes the authority and responsibility for effectively using available
resources and for planning the employment of,
organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling
military forces for the accomplishment of assigned
missions. It also includes responsibility for health,
welfare, morale, and discipline of assigned personnel.
[The Air Force also believes that force protection of personnel is the responsibility of its commanders. Today’s
full spectrum employment of aerospace forces requires
command responsibility to also include force protection.]
Although commanders may delegate authority to accomplish the
mission, they cannot delegate the responsibility for the attainment of
mission objectives. The various levels of authorities used by commanders include four command relationships (COCOM, OPCON, TACON,
and Support) and three “other authorities” (ADCON, coordinating authority, and direct liaison authorized [DIRLAUTH]). A Service component commander, such as the Commander, Air Force Forces
(COMAFFOR), normally has operational and administrative
responsibilities and should have the proper levels of authority to
accomplish the mission. It is important to note that airmen command
aerospace power, not just monitor an air tasking order. The command of
aerospace power requires a keen understanding of the joint force
commander’s intent.
Control as defined in JP 1-02 is the process by which commanders
plan and guide operations.
The control process occurs before and during the operation. Control
involves dynamic balances between commanders directing operations and
allowing subordinates freedom of action. These processes require strong
leadership and assessment/evaluation of follow-up actions. Often time
and distance factors limit the direct control of subordinates. Commanders
should rely on delegation of authorities and “commander’s intent” as methods
to control forces. The commander’s intent should specify the goals, priorities,
acceptable risks, and limits of the operation.
Principles and tenets guide C2 operations just as in other aerospace
operations. Unity of command is a principle of C2 operations, which,
in turn, assures unity of effort and is supported by the tenet of
centralized control and decentralized execution. Another enduring tenet of C2 operations is informed decision making. Informed
and timely decision making is the essence of decision dominance.
When the right information is flowing horizontally and vertically in a
timely manner, the commander is able to fuse together the needed
information to make the best possible decision—thus gaining and maintaining decision dominance. The commander will never have all the
information desired. Accepting and taking reasonable risks to achieve mission
success is the norm in warfare—efficient and effective C2 minimizes that risk.
Unity of Command
According to AFDD 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, “Unity of command
ensures the concentration of effort for every objective under one
responsible commander. This principle emphasizes that all efforts
should be directed and coordinated toward a common objective.”
For example, the joint force air component commander (JFACC) should also
be the area air defense commander (AADC) and the airspace control
authority (ACA). For example, the JFACC normally functions as the
supported commander for counterair operations, encompassing both the
offensive and defensive counterair (DCA). Likewise, AADC responsibilities encompass DCA. A single airman responsible for unifying all
air-related functions does more than allow deconfliction; it allows integration. Commanders are empowered by several command authorities
to ensure unity of command. JP 0-2, Unified Action Armed Forces (UNAAF),
covers the four command authorities that are also command relationships—combatant command (command authority (COCOM)),
operational control (OPCON), tactical control (TACON), and
support. A detailed discussion on these command authorities is found
in AFDD 2, Organization and Employment of Aerospace Power.
The support command relationship warrants particular attention
because, according to the UNAAF, it is a “somewhat vague, but very
flexible arrangement.” Modern information technology systems afford
aerospace commanders with vastly improved information resources that
improve situational awareness and help reduce forward-deployed footprints. The same information resources have an inherent capability to
provide undue rear area influence in the engaged commander’s C2 process. In light of this development, it is critical that supported/supporting
relationships are clearly understood by commanders and their staffs.
Other UNAAF-covered command authorities critical to C2 operations
are administrative control (ADCON), coordinating authority, and direct
liaison authorized (DIRLAUTH). Commanders must thoroughly
understand command authorities and the concept of command
relationships, as this area could well be a source of confusion.
Some commanders may fulfill their responsibilities by personally
directing units to engage in missions or tasks. However, as the breadth
of command expands to include the full spectrum of operations, aerospace commanders are normally precluded from doing so. Thus,
C2 operations normally include the assignment of responsibilities
and the delegation of authorities between superior and subordinate commanders. A reluctance to delegate decisions to subordinate
commanders slows down C2 operations and takes away the subordinate’s
initiative. Senior commanders should provide the desired end-state,
desired effects, rules of engagement, and required feedback on
the progress of the operation without actually directing the
tactical operations.
Centralized Control and Decentralized Execution
Centralized control and decentralized execution provide
commanders the ability to exploit the speed, flexibility, and
versatility of global aerospace power. The unique vigilance, reach,
and global power abilities of aerospace power to maneuver, to achieve
strategic and theater effects, and to complement joint operations
are inherently dependent on centralized control by an airman.
The fundamental concept of a functional component commander, as
described in the UNAAF, embodies the Air Force’s commitment to the
tenet of centralized control of aerospace power. AFDD 2, Organization
and Employment of Aerospace Power describes the joint air operations
center (JAOC) where centralized planning, directing, controlling, and
coordinating take place. A balance exists between too much and too little
centralized control. Overcontrolling aerospace power robs it of flexibility,
taking away initiative from operators. Undercontrolling aerospace power
fails to capitalize on joint force integration and orchestration, thus
reducing its effectiveness.
Centralized control of aerospace forces levies a major requirement on US Air Force C2 operations. This requirement is to establish
and maintain two-way information flow among commanders, operators, and
combat support elements that must be effectively integrated to achieve the
desired combat effects. Using timely and available information, commanders make and communicate decisions. A good example is the air tasking
order (ATO); it embodies command decisions that must be communicated
to the operators.
As Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Eisenhower
invoked new doctrine by insisting upon a single air commander reporting
directly to him. The Allied campaign in North Africa during World
War II began with airpower parceled out to various commanders,
including ground commanders. The limitations of this arrangement
quickly became apparent, particularly during the battle at Kasserine
Pass. During the 1943 Casablanca Conference, Roosevelt and Churchill
approved a new command structure that centralized control under an
airman. This new concept quickly found its way into Army doctrine:
“Control of available airpower must be centralized and command must
be exercised through the air force commander if this inherent flexibility
and ability to deliver a decisive blow are to be fully exploited.”
Parameters, Summer 94
The two-way information flow between commanders and operators is
often depicted as a vertical or “up-and-down” flow. Commanders rely on
vertical information flow to produce a common tactical picture of the
battle. Senior commanders, like the JFC, may subsequently use several
common tactical pictures to produce a common operational picture of
the theater. Vertical information flow is fundamental to centralized
control. Vertical flow is important for direction and feedback. Without
this flow, commanders cannot give meaningful feedback when
controlling operations.
Another type of information flow is horizontal or “peer-to-peer”
communication, which normally occurs between operators and among
combat support elements. Horizontal information flow is essential
for common situational awareness. Both vertical and horizontal
information flow exchange data that, when fused in a timely manner,
becomes integrated information to provide the framework for making
the best possible decision—enabling decision dominance. The dynamic
fusion of vertical and horizontal information allows timely consideration
and decisions by the aerospace commander—centralized control. At
the tactical level, proper information fusion allows better situational
awareness—enabling decentralized execution. Figure 1.1 depicts the
interrelationship of vertical and horizontal information flow.
Decentralized execution by aerospace forces levies another major
requirement on US Air Force C2 operations. This requirement is to ensure
the two-way horizontal information flow that reduces the uncertainty of the
war. Information such as battlespace observations should flow freely
between operators. Horizontal flow of information enhances operator
Centralized control of airpower was the only feasible means by
which each of the ground forces [U.S., Republic of Vietnam, Korean,
Australian corps] could get air support when it needed it. By early
1967, there were hundreds of thousands of troops in country. The
7th Air Force was well established by this time to support the U.S.,
ARVN, Korean, and Australian ground forces in all of the four corps
areas. If the air had been divided-up among these various forces,
COMUSMACV would have been unable to concentrate the airpower
of 7th AF where he wanted and needed it. With the control
centralized, he was able to move around anywhere within his area
of responsibility concentrating firepower as needed.
General William W. Momyer, USAF (Retired)
Airpower in Three Wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam)
initiative. As the battlespace environment changes, operators are free to
act within the guidelines of the commander’s intent and rules of engagement. The balance between vertical and horizontal information
flows should be described in the C2 section of the operations plan.
Maintaining this balance across the full spectrum of aerospace employment is a job for C2 operators.
Work still needs to be done to integrate horizontal and vertical
information flows. When the vertical flow dominates, subordinate commanders and operators may suffer as the initiative is passed to senior
commanders. When the horizontal flow dominates, commanders may
suffer because they do not have the information necessary to exercise
focused control of present operations and to plan future operations.
Senior commanders making decisions about operations, combined
with subordinates free to exercise initiative in executing those
decisions, make up the heart of C2—centralized control and decentralized execution. There may be times when the political leadership
are involved in low-end to mid-level spectrum activities. This high-level
political involvement tends to drive a higher level of centralized command. Decentralized execution in these instances may vary with the
latitude granted by the NCA. Coalition unity and collateral damage are
two common objectives that may challenge the optimal balance in
centralized control and decentralized execution.
Figure 1.1. Information Integration
Vertical Integration
Horizontal Integration
Other Ops
Informed Decision Making
Command and control should support an informed and timely
decision-making process at all levels of command. The process should
be adapted to the circumstances presented by the mission and aerospace
environment. The process should not be used blindly in a checklist
fashion. A key attribute of informed decision-making is choosing among
competing courses of action. Time sensitive targeting decisions and
sensor-to-shooter reactions are prime examples of competing courses of
action that must be reconciled by the aerospace commander. Commanders preserve the flexibility of aerospace power by making informed and
timely decisions. Deferring decisions by moving them up or down the chain of
command sacrifices the initiative and limits the flexibility of alternatives.
Commanders should access and accept risks necessary to accomplish
the mission. Accepting risks also acknowledges the possibility of failure.
Assessing risks may be a time-consuming process; however, not
assessing risks turns the decision-making process into a dangerous
gamble. Commanders should take advantage of vertical and horizontal
information fusion efforts to optimize timely and informed decisionmaking. For a single consolidated reference on operational risk
management, see AFTTP(I) 3–2.34, Multiservice Tactics, Techniques and
Procedures for Risk Management.
Command and control processes are the structured basis of informed
decision making. Technology either automates or accelerates these
processes via advances in information technology like digital electronic
communications, computers, and expert systems. Yet, there is no substitute for trained personnel using intuition and common sense in making
the final decision. In the words of General Shaud (former Chief of Staff,
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), “Process is no substitute
for careful thought.” Airmen, schooled in the art of war, need good
information as well as an efficient and effective process to make the
best-informed decisions.
Failures in information flow lead to tragic losses. The accidental
shoot down of two US Army Blackhawk helicopters by AWACS-vectored
fighters can be traced to successive failures in information flow,
vertically between commanders and operators and horizontally
between operators.
Air Force Chief to Review Blackhawk Actions
OD News Release No. 414-95
JP 1-02 lists four command and control functions: planning, directing,
coordinating, and controlling.
Planning is the process of examining the environment, relating
objectives with resources, and deciding on a course of action
(COA). Commanders make planning decisions through a rational
analysis of costs, evaluation of benefits, and acceptance of residual
risks approach.
Directing is giving specific instructions and guidance to subordinate units. Superior commanders often give specific instructions to
subordinates on mission objectives, situation, resources, and acceptable
risks. Commanders should also give their guidance or “intent”
to subordinates as a way to encourage initiative and reduce
the uncertainty throughout the spectrum of conflict.
Coordinating is sharing information to gain consensus, explain
tasks, and optimize operations. Commanders should ensure the shared
information (both vertical and horizontal) produces trusting relationships
and gains agreements necessary for efficient multinational and joint
operations. Sharing information is a way to minimize the risk of fratricide.
Controlling is a composite function that uses parts of the planning, directing, and coordinating processes to ensure efficient
execution of operations. Controlling requires current information to
produce feedback. Feedback is essential to correct errant results or to
issue new orders that exploit advantages.
General Kenney, in the aftermath of WWII, gave some tips on
controlling an organization (in his book “General Kenney Reports”).
“It turned out to be another scrambled outfit of Australians and
Americans, with so many lines of responsibility, control, and
coordination on the organization chart that it resembled a can of
worms as you looked at it. I made a note to tell Walker to take
charge, tear up that chart, and have no one issue orders around
there except himself. After he got things operating simply, quickly,
and efficiently he could draw up a new chart if he wanted to.”
General George C. Kenney
General Kenney Reports
The aerospace environment and C2 are intimately related. With the
advent of the airplane, a commander’s area of focus grew into a hundredfold larger “volume of responsibility” or battlespace. Today the United
States, as a space-faring nation, conducts aerospace operations in a
potential battlespace that is a billion-fold larger. The aerospace
environment stretches from the earth’s surface to the outer reaches
of space in a seamless operational medium. The art of commanding
aerospace power lies in integrating systems to produce the effects the
nation needs. Information capabilities support operations across the
entire aerospace domain. Airmen should think in terms of controlling and exploiting the full aerospace continuum on a regional and
global scale to achieve effects both on earth and in flight regimes beyond
the horizon. The aerospace operations centers are becoming more
capable of gathering and fusing the full range of information, from
national to tactical, in real time, and rapidly converting that information
to knowledge and understanding—to assure decision dominance over
adversaries. This brings into focus the driving issues that affect US Air
Force command and control. The immense expanse of the global
battlespace demands highly trained people, state of the art technology,
and efficient processes for successful C2. Modern conflicts demand
fast and efficient C2 operations that are sufficiently flexible and
adaptable to minimize the inevitable fog and friction of warfare.
In due course, planners decided to pursue NATO’s objectives
exclusively through an air campaign. What made aerospace power the
relevant and compelling choice was the NAC’s [North Atlantic Council’s]
careful consideration of its unique attributes and versatility. As well,
NATO member nations had certain expectations about their employment.
They accepted speed, range, and flexibility as the hallmark attributes
of aerospace power in supporting theory and doctrine. Complementing
these time-tested attributes were ones that contemporary experience
had confirmed—lethality and precision. They also valued the airman’s
ability to deliver precision weapons—often from standoff distances—
reducing the likelihood of unintended casualties and collateral damage.
Sophisticated and integrated command, control, communications,
computers, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance would
enable timely adjustments to military operations in response to political
Air War Over Serbia Report
The idea of expeditionary aerospace forces is not new. America began
its air expeditionary operations prior to World War I by attaching aircraft
to the ground forces pursuing Pancho Villa in Mexico. Today’s expeditionary aerospace operations span the globe, with aerospace forces
operating from forward bases in Southwest Asia, the Balkans, and many
other locations. The US Air Force is an expeditionary aerospace force
configured for the full spectrum of aerospace operations. This shift provides a unifying structure that brings all our people together in shared
challenges, shared goals and shared successes. Airmen from all across
the Air Force contribute to our expeditionary capabilities—from those
who provide the deterrent umbrella under which we operate, to those
who deploy, to those who operate the fixed facilities on which we depend
when we reachback for support. AEFs provide joint force commanders
with ready and complete aerospace force packages that can be tailored
to meet the spectrum of contingencies—ensuring situational awareness,
freedom from attack, freedom to maneuver and freedom to attack. AEFs
fit into established theater-based command and control structures, when
such are available, or bring their own command and control when
needed. Equally important to expeditionary operations are the home
bases that plan, surge, support, and supply these forward bases. Figure
1.2 depicts the central role C2 plays in making the EAF a dominant
war-fighting force. In addition, expeditionary combat support
Figure 1.2. Command and Control links home bases with forward bases.
Numbered Air Force
Air Component Commanders
AETF Commanders
Forward Bases
Joint Force Commanders
Home Bases
Wing Commanders
Aerospace Expeditionary
Major Command
capabilities underpin the Air Force ability to operate anywhere in the
world. Effective, efficient combat support is the key to sustaining
expeditionary forces. The Air Force must continue to harness information technology, rapid transportation and the strengths of both to
ensure responsive, dependable, precise support.
The term “command and control system” is often narrowly construed
as the highly visible technological elements, such as satellite communication or computer systems. JP 1-02 defines command and
control system as the “facilities, equipment, communications,
procedures, and personnel essential to a commander for planning, directing, and controlling operations of assigned forces
pursuant to the missions assigned.” An Air Force C2 weapon system
includes; sensors, data processors, decision tools, operators, maintainers, and
the interconnecting communications to enable commanders to conduct
operations with unity of command and effort. In addition, this C2 weapon
system includes all of the personnel and equipment necessary for
sustainment and survivability. For aerospace forces, C2 systems
consist of mission essential technology elements and processes
needed by people to perform their assigned command and
control functions. The C2 operations section of this document
describes how people and C2 systems work together.
The World War II Battle of Britain demonstrated the primacy of C2
systems in modern warfare. Although heroic aerial combat may be the
General Spaatz had a first-hand look at part of the British
command and control system and formed his own opinions about
the importance of C2 in operations. “Spaatz spent much of his time
with Fighter Command, particularly with No. 12 Group under Air
Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory. At that point he finally got a
good look at radar, including its early warning, ground-controlled
intercept, and identification friend or foe variants. This equipment
enabled the RAF accurately to track and to intercept German raids,
as well as to distinguish its aircraft from enemy aircraft. Spaatz …
spent all of August 9 in the operations room at No. 12 Group getting
a full explanation of night and day procedures.”
Richard G. Davis
Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe
most memorable part of the battle, people using C2 systems comprised of
then-modern equipment and efficient processes are often given credit
for winning the Battle of Britain. A C2 system bought Fighter Command
about ten minutes of warning time and vectoring information—enough
timely information to be decisive.
US Air Force C2 operations enable commanders to lead missions within
the contextual constraints of policies, resources, and environment. C2
operations are vital “enablers” or “supporters” of war-fighting
Below are planning considerations required for well-planned C2 support:
› Coverage: surveillance and reconnaissance, weather and air traffic
control, etc.
› Functionality: sufficient, redundant decentralized execution nodes for
specific areas (CAS, airspace control, DCA, etc.).
In the air war over Serbia,
command and control worked well at
the tactical level. For example, the
rapid re-targeting of attack aircraft
against targets detected by the
Predator unmanned aerial vehicle was
innovative and quite successful. At
the operational and strategic levels,
however, Air Force leaders repeatedly noted two dominant problems.
The first was that command and control structures and coordination
procedures were overlapping and confusing. The principle of unity of
command must be reinforced in future training, doctrine, and operations.
The second problem was the perception that air campaign planning
and execution were matters of managing the ATO production process,
rather than commanding the air battle. Future training of combat
leaders and their staffs must move beyond the current emphasis on
learning the “process” of command and control. Rather, they need an
understanding of the fundamental principles that serve as the basis for
effects-based employment of aerospace power.
Air War Over Serbia Report
› Placement: political and geographic constraints will affect system
Since the details of most C2 operations are not specified by superior
commanders, the responsibilities for the details of implied tasks normally
fall upon operational and tactical commanders. Commanders should
describe their C2 objectives, intent, resources, acceptable risks, and
strategies to subordinates. A centralized plan for C2 operations is
developed through the iterative campaign planning process as detailed
in US Air Force and joint publications. The uncertainty of conflict
throughout the spectrum of engagement make the C2 planning
process just as important as the C2 section of the war plan itself.
When American forces fight as part of a joint or multinational force,
responsibility for C2 operations are by necessity shared among national,
functional, and Service component commanders. It is up to the JFC or
multinational force commander and staff to determine a workable
theater C2 plan. A primary consideration is choosing between parallel,
lead nation, or multinational command and control structures. See JP
3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations, for details on these C2 structures.
In complex multinational operations, command and control
often proves to be the essential mission-enabler, without which
effective coalition operations would be impossible. The
multinational 1948 Berlin Airlift serves as a good example.
Named ‘Operation Vittles,’ the airlift forced AACS [Airways and
Air Communication Service] personnel to improvise new methods of
air traffic control to handle the volume of traffic needed to bring the
minimum 4,500 tons of coal and food into Berlin daily…. The area
control operators kept in touch with the aircraft until they turned
them over to the ground-controlled approach radar operators who
talked them down to a safe landing. Airplanes that missed their first
landing approach were dispatched back to their home base unless
they could be later vectored back into the landing pattern. Flight
plans, position reports, and clearance phraseology were streamlined
to limit the length of radio transmissions and accelerate operations.
Ground-controlled approach radar was the keystone upon which the
airlift system was built.
Thomas S. Snyder, ed.
History of Air Force Communications Command
Planning is the C2 function of examining the environment,
matching objectives with resources, and deciding on the course of
action. Successful planning focuses on future operations. The US Air
Force recognizes the importance of the Joint Operation Planning and
Execution System (JOPES) to the warfighter, as described in JP 5-0,
Doctrine for Planning Joint Operations. The JOPES process includes threat
identification, strategy determination, course of action development,
detailed planning, and implementation. These broad steps are generally
followed by each of the three categories of joint operational planning.
These categories are deliberate, crisis action, and the overarching category of campaign planning, all of which are described in JOPES doctrine and procedural publications. The key C2 component of these
planning activities is the commander’s estimate decision process.
JP 1-02 defines the commander’s estimate of the situation as “a
logical process of reasoning by which a commander considers all
the circumstances affecting the military situation and arrives at a
decision as to a course of action (COA) to be taken to accomplish
the mission.” The air component assists in the development of the JFC’s
estimate process: assessing the mission, developing COAs that are
responsive to the situation, analyzing adversary COAs (defend, reinforce, attack, withdraw, escalate, delay), comparing friendly COAs and
selecting a COA. As detailed in AFDD 2, Organization and Employment
of Aerospace Power the US Air Force’s estimate process integrates
aerospace power into COAs that are presented to the JFC for a
decision. The estimate process is the primary way for airmen to
Called ‘Instant Thunder’ this concept won Schwarzkopf’s
endorsement; its name was intended as a clear signal that any air
campaign would be quick, overwhelming, and decisive—not a
gradualist approach as had been the case with Vietnam’s ‘Rolling
Thunder’ 25 years before.
Richard P. Hallion
Storm Over Iraq
influence the JFC’s COA decision process. The time relationship
between the JFC’s and the US Air Force’s estimate processes is critical.
Both processes are interrelated and should be accomplished simultaneously. A desired goal is to have one staff, one process, and one
A JFC may also need to synthesize COAs from the ones recommended
by subordinates in order to satisfy the criteria of adequacy, feasibility,
variety, and completeness. The inputs of airmen are critical in this
synthesis process. Aerospace power requires early consideration
when integrating aerospace missions into a campaign plan.
Planning based solely upon deconfliction and synchronization,
either geographically or temporally, denies aerospace power its
flexibility. Planning should focus on integrating aerospace power into
operations that will achieve specific objectives and effects.
Once a COA decision is made, the aerospace commander produces
the detailed plan to achieve assigned objectives. The detailed planning
process for airmen is the five-step joint aerospace operations
planning process. For more information on the process, see AFDD 2,
Organization and Employment of Aerospace Power. The output of the
process, the joint air operations plan (JAOP), forms the basis for the
day-to-day tactical operations. Another important JFC decision is the
apportionment of airpower to accomplish the JAOP and to satisfy joint
One thing I cannot overemphasize is that DESERT SHIELD/STORM
was a coordinated effort. My boss, General Schwarzkopf, approved
the air war plan we developed and gave it his full backing. The
commanders of the other US Central Command components
cooperated with us to the fullest, as did the commanders of allied
forces. Back at home, we knew that President Bush was committed
to letting his military commanders run the war; the secretaries and
the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave us their full support and cooperation.
The Air Force led off the fighting, but in the end, every Defense
Department and allied element contributed to the victory. It was
truly a combined effort.
General Charles Horner
Air Power History, Fall 91
Effective C2 decisions use a dynamic process that starts when
the data are received from various sources and are processed to
form information. This information is then used as the basis for
making decisions. Once the appropriate decisions are made, the commander
ensures these decisions are communicated to subordinates for execution.
Delegation of a decision is appropriate when time and information factors
allow a subordinate to make a better decision. Making effective decisions is
especially difficult during crisis operations due to the uncertainty created by
the fog and friction of war. This uncertainty generates “noise.”
When applied to C2, noise serves as a metaphor for anything
that interferes with people receiving, processing, and transmitting
information during the decision-making process. Noise in this sense
originates from human and technological sources. As the central receiver
of information, commanders may face “information overload” with too
much noise, hindering their decision making. Commanders need to set
filters by selecting mission-essential information and defer the rest. Noise can
be reduced by properly fusing data at appropriate horizontal and vertical
fusion points in the aerospace commander’s operation center. In the processing stage, noise often comes from preconceptions that limit commanders’ abilities to analyze ambiguous information that contradicts the current view of the situation. The development of and adherence to a systematic decision-making process reduce the effects of noise.
The use of established decision-making processes does not entirely
eliminate the uncertainty of war and the dynamics of the full spectrum
engagement encountered by all commanders. However, it can guide
commanders and their staffs through logical steps that lead to better
decisions, given the available information. There are many decisionmaking models available for use such as the monitor, assess, plan, and
execute (MAPE) model. (For more information on MAPE see AFDD 1-1,
The Air Force Task List). Each model requires an awareness of the
environment, an evaluation of the information received, a decision based
on that information, and execution of orders or plans. These models
can add detail to the commander’s estimate process described earlier.
Aerospace power provides effects throughout the battlespace.
Communicating aerospace options and COAs during the estimate
process requires an understanding of C2 systems characteristics.
Situational awareness is another key element of effective decisionmaking. It is important that commanders immediately identify the
individuals/units responsible to identify, collect, analyze, and
archive all pertinent information during ongoing operations. Keen
situational awareness helps reduce the fog and friction of war by
providing commanders with accurate and timely information so decisions
can be optimized. Identifying, collecting, and analyzing information
help commanders make better current and near-term decisions. Archiving
information allows events to be studied after the operation has been
conducted. This enables commanders to incorporate the results of
lessons learned into future operations.
The fundamental purpose of C2 systems is to ensure commanders receive mission-essential information, make informed
and timely decisions, and communicate appropriate
commands to subordinates throughout the operation. To achieve
this purpose, C2 systems must meet the cost, schedule, and performance
criteria set during the requirements phase of the acquisition process. In
establishing these requirements, users and developers must also
ensure C2 systems are interoperable, sustainable, and survivable.
The interrelated C2 system characteristics of interoperability,
sustainability, and survivability are shown in Figure 2.1. These three
Figure 2.1. Interrelated C2 System Characteristics
characteristics are critical to ensuring future aerospace expeditionary forces
have the C2 operational flexibility, sustained combat support, and fulldimensional protection required by the warfighter.
There has been a dramatic increase in the ability to conduct military
operations at great distances and with great speed. Future C2 systems
should feature interoperability and seamless integration of C2 and ISR
assets across all operating domains. Bandwith and information fidelity
must facilitate the conflicting demands of horizontal and vertical
information flows. Information technology advances are accelerating the
integration of C2 systems with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems.
Interoperability is the ability of C2 systems to exchange information, allowing warfighters to operate effectively together.
Interoperability is best achieved by adhering to technology and process
standards that allow information flow. Unity of command is difficult, if not
impossible, to achieve when C2 systems do not work together. In the
past, most C2 systems were designed strictly to meet the needs of a
particular Service or functional commander. This is changing. However,
the focus on multinational operations will continue to challenge us
particularly in security issues and technology gaps. Every effort should
be made to share the needed information efficiently among the multinational forces participating in the operation.
Numerous directives require the Services to migrate existing Service
or function specific C2 systems and applications to a standard defense
information infrastructure (DII). This infrastructure is not a C2 system,
but provides a common operating environment or a foundation for building where functionality is added or removed in small, manageable segments. To achieve interoperability, the DOD established the Joint
Technical Architecture (JTA) and the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
(C4ISR) Architectural Framework. The framework provides for the
implementation of a standard DOD architecture that provides the needed
structure while systems are in the development and system engineering
phases of acquisition. The JTA identifies a common set of mandatory
information technology standards and guidelines to be used for sending
and receiving, understanding, and processing information. The Air Force’s
detailed standards and guidelines are addressed in the JTA-Air Force
Flexibility, a feature of interoperability, allows the massing or
combining of C2 systems needed to satisfy C2 requirements. C2
systems should work in a complementary and synergistic fashion that avoids
unnecessary duplication of functions. C2 technological developments and
capabilities are growing well beyond what is affordable by one Service or
one organization. Numerous commercial and government efforts have
produced unique and flexible C2 capabilities. Commanders, who want
effective operations at minimum costs, should fully integrate these C2
The demand for military satellite
communications (SATCOM) systems
represents a good example of C2
system flexibility. The Gulf War used
at least five different SATCOM systems
to support operations with the military
DSCS [Defense Satellite
Communications System] and
commercial INTELSAT [International Telecommunications Satellite
Organization] systems being the most notable.
Alan D. Campen, ed.
The First Information War
DSCS III Satellite
A good example of
a v e r s a t i l e C 2
platform is the Joint
Surveillance Target
Attack Radar System (JSTARS) with
i t s i n t e l l i g e n c e,
surveillance, and
r e c o n n a i s s a n c e
capabilities. This
airborne groundlooking radar system
made history as a
platform in the Gulf War. Radar pictures of the highway exit routes
from Kuwait gave commanders an operational picture that showed Iraq’s
retreat from battlefield positions. Other uses of the versatile JSTARS
include tactical monitoring of peacekeeping operations and guiding
rescue workers in humanitarian assistance operations.
Satellite communications (SATCOM) systems provide flexibility by
allowing cross-Service and cross-functional communication among diverse
joint force elements. The SATCOM “force mix” should be an interoperable
blend of military and commercial systems that are based on deliberately
planned requirements. Deliberate planning by the warfighter clarifies
actual wartime network requirements, which in turn provides a sound
basis for sizing needed bandwidth and throughput during a crisis.
Versatility, another feature of interoperable C2 systems, enables
commanders to execute missions across the spectrum of engegement
with existing resources. Scarce C2 weapons systems are labeled “low
density, high demand” to reflect the low number of platforms and
high operations requirements for these resources.
Aerospace power’s expeditionary focus and rapid global
mobility capability make unique demands on C2 system
sustainability, maintainability, and redundancy. Leading edge C2
technology often has both military and commercial uses. The US Air
Force supports using a cost-effective mix of military and commercial C2
systems to reduce expensive research and development costs when
possible. However, sustainment of this mix poses long-term issues for
commanders. Commanders should consider these issues and incorporate their decisions into C2 plans. These decisions are most critical for
combined and joint force commanders as host-nations considerations
greatly influence the mix and use of coalition C2 systems.
Radio frequency (RF) spectrum management is a key area in sustaining
C2 systems. Global demand and advances in information
technology make the RF spectrum a scarce commodity. As demand
increases, management and coordination tasks become much more
complex. Deliberate planning uses reasonable assumptions to
anticipate RF spectrum requirements. RF spectrum management in
a crisis situation demands rigorous procedures and rules. C2
systems that receive or transmit in the RF spectrum must be certified
and licensed. Commanders should pay particular attention to this area.
The forward and home bases of expeditionary Air Force operations
present a unique challenge to maintaining C2 systems. Maintainers are
responsible for two C2 systems: one at the home base, the other deployed.
“Temporary” fielded equipment, some remaining deployed for many years,
eventually becomes obsolete. Maintainers should not be forced to
repair old equipment while operations are in progress. Technology
advances should be forecast and maintainability requirements should be
consistent with the forecast. For example, yearly advances in computer
technology may mean the adoption of a “disposable” computer maintenance concept in which computers are treated like a consumable item.
Survivability of C2 systems is critical in war. C2 systems require
special protection from overt and covert hostile action. Historically, C2 systems have been well-protected from attack by carefully
locating, hardening, and securing the system. Host nations may restrict
expeditionary Air Force C2 operations by determining the placement of
C2 systems. Commanders should ensure that adequate hardening and
security measures compensate for lesser degrees of force protection
offered by distance or terrain. Protection decisions should be based
on cost, risk, and benefit factors that are continually reassessed as
the threat environment changes.
The US Air Force’s use of global connectivity systems, such as the
Internet, is increasing. Distributed operations rely on these systems,
increasing the likelihood of information attacks. Commanders should only
use secure and responsive C2 systems to transmit and receive essential
war-fighting orders and information. Reliance on commingled military
Global positioning system (GPS)
navigation technology enables precision
command and control of maneuver
forces and fires. This technology also
enables a worldwide, multibilliondollar, civilian navigation and positioning market. Sustainment decisions
on military and commercial versions of
C2 systems should be made ahead of
time. For example, degrading an
adversary’s C2 system by lowering the
precision of GPS signals may also
affect friendly C2 systems.
GPS Receiver
US Military Precision Lightweight
GPS Receiver
and commercial systems during conflict may put the commander at additional risk. One possible solution is to segregate information needed for
C2. Mission-critical information can be exchanged via secure military
channels, while routine information via the first, free connectivity channel. Another possible solution is to integrate all information and use multiple high-capacity connectivity channels to ensure
information flow. The choice will depend on security concerns and
available C2 assets. This level of planning should be addressed as early as
possible in deliberate or crisis action planning.
Redundant C2 systems provide the ability for alternative C2
systems to continue operations in the event of failure or damage to
the primary system. C2 system redundancy begins with planning.
Redundancy requirements should balance the goal of mission success
against natural failures. High value C2 systems that are difficult to backup,
such as the air operations center, are good candidates for
redundancy planning. A COMAFFOR should plan for redundancy
by using distributed C2 operations. For example, the commander
could designate the alternate aerospace operations center (AOC) or
another numbered air forces’s (NAF) AOC as backup.
The US Air Force follows
the command relationships
presented in JP 0-2, Unified
Action Armed Forces (UNAAF)
and provides O P C O N ,
TACON, and support of
forces according to the Joint
Force Commander’s (JFC)
concept of operations. AFDD
2, Organization and Employment of Aerospace Forces provides the details on how the
Commander, Air Force
Forces (COMAFFOR) should
exercise OPCON and TACON
of US Air Force forces with the preferred option of the COMAFFOR
and the Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) being
the same individual. When this occurs, the JFACC may need to designate
a Deputy COMAFFOR to oversee the combat support arrangements so the
JFACC can concentrate on the battle rhythm. Although the numbered air
forces provide the core staff for the aerospace operation center and the
AFFOR combat support staffing, manning levels do not match the robust support required. Augmentation, usually from the theater MAJCOM,
is required to meet the mission requirements.
The JFC designates a JFACC based on several factors such as: JFC’s
overall mission, concept of operations, the missions and tasks assigned to
subordinate commanders, forces available, duration and nature of joint air
operations desired, and the degree of unity of command and control of joint air
operations required. The JFC will normally assign JFACC responsibilities to the component commander having the preponderance
of air assets and the capability to plan, task, and control joint air
operations. Because of these criteria, the JFACC will normally be a US Air
Force officer. If the JFACC is not a US Air Force officer, the COMAFFOR must
be designated to fulfill Service responsibilities.
We must command aerospace power—
not just administer the Air Tasking
General John Jumper
Multinational operations are common and very likely the standardbearer of future operations. When the aerospace force is multinational, a
Combined Force Air Component Commander (CFACC) is designated.
Normally a US Air Force officer will be designated as the CFACC
because the US Air Force will usually have the preponderance of
air assets and the capability to plan, task, and control joint air
operations, as discussed earlier. In these circumstances, the US Air
Force officer is designated CFACC, JFACC and COMAFFOR. When this
occurs, augmentation is essential to ensure that multinational, functional
and Service responsibilities are met.
To avoid unnecessary confusion, future references to the functional
commander in this doctrine document will use the JFACC designation.
When discussing purely Service command responsibilities, we will identify that commander as COMAFFOR.
In a joint operations area, the JFC establishes supported and supporting relationships. For example, the JFACC should normally function
as the supported commander for counterair operations; strategic
attack operations; theater airborne intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance (ISR); space operations; and the overall air interdiction effort. The JFACC may also be the supporting commander for
close air support and the portion of air interdiction requested by the
surface components within the land and maritime AOs. The supported
commander should ensure the supporting commander understands the
assistance required. In turn, the supporting commander will provide
that assistance based on existing capabilities and other assigned tasks.
As the preparations for the Air War Over Serbia advanced, General
Jumper began to consider the overwhelming command and leadership
challenges Lieutenant General Short faced in his many U.S. and
NATO roles, including that of Commander of Air Force Forces
(COMAFFOR). He determined that without staff augmentation,
General Short’s 99-billet Sixteenth Air Force headquarters staff in
Aviano, Italy, would be pressed to accomplish all assigned wartime
AFFOR missions. Accordingly, General Jumper directed Major General
Hobbins, USAF, USAFE Director of Operations, to lead designated
elements of the USAFE staff as rear-echelon augmentation to the
AFFOR Staff. General Hobbins would unofficially serve as the
administrative commander in the “rear echelon” (AFFOR-rear).
Air War Over Serbia Report
When the supporting commander is unable to provide the requested
support, the designating authority (superior commander) will be
notified for resolution.
COMAFFORs carry out additional US Air Force responsibilities through
ADCON, a command authority, over US Air Force forces assigned or
attached to unified or subunified commands or joint task forces (JTFs). A
COMAFFOR can exist at each of these levels. Although the UNAAF
allows the JFC and the Service component commander to be the same
person, AFDD 2, Organization and Employment of Aerospace Forces
recommends that a US Air Force JFC should not also serve as the
COMAFFOR or the JFACC. This allows a JFC to focus on the appropriate level of warfighting, without distraction.
Expeditionary C2 operations support both US Air Force commanders
and JFCs. These operations will likely interface with host nations, allies,
and nongovernmental organizations. The Service chain of command
organizes, trains, equips, and sustains the Expeditionary Air Force. The
US Air Force uses the Aerospace Expeditionary Force Center to coordinate, plan, and prepare AEF force packages. Activities should include
conducting predeployment workshops, conferences, and other efforts
to best integrate expeditionary aerospace forces into the theater CINC
requirements. When expeditionary air forces are transitioned to the
combatant commands, C2 becomes a theater responsibility.
Additionally, C2 operations are required to support force mobilization, deployment, employment, sustainment, and redeployment
activities. Transition from day-to-day peacetime C2 to warfighting C2 is
more straightforward when forces are deployed in the theater. The UNAAF
provides a guide for establishing the command relationships and
decision-making structure of the multinational or joint force in-theater.
Theater CINCs undertake operations as authorized by the NCA and
organize their forces as required to fulfill the mission. Establishment of a
Joint Task Force (JTF) to handle a discreet mission is the norm, but this
I sincerely believe that the inherent characteristics of airpower will
make it the weapon of choice by the National Command Authorities,
as we get deeper and deeper into the transition from the Cold War.
General Ronald R. Fogleman
does not preclude assigning operations to one of the Service or functional
components. Interoperable C2 systems are the critical enablers of
command relationships and allow joint/combined forces greater
flexibility and responsiveness. The US Air Force is responsible for
equipping its aerospace forces with the interoperable C2 needed to
command and control aerospace forces. The parent MAJCOM and NAF,
with the assistance of the Aerospace Command and Control and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center (AC2ISRC), are the focal
points for ensuring interoperable C2 systems.
The situation is more complex when forces, materiel, or services
are projected from outside the theater of operations. To ensure unity of
command, Air Force commanders and JFCs must coordinate the
deployment and employment of forces. The goal of coordination is
the synergistic employment of forces to accomplish the JFC’s
objectives. Time or space deconfliction of forces is not sufficient to
achieve this goal. While the supported commander has the final
say, supporting commanders still must make decisions regarding the
coordinated employment of their forces. The functional combatant commands, such as United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM),
have developed organic command and control operations to support
decision-making and coordination of these decisions whether operating
in a supported or supporting relationship.
The focal point for the C2 of theater air operations is the JAOC.
Some operations establish a combined aerospace operations center to integrate
multinational or allied forces. The JFC normally designates the component commander with the preponderance of aerospace forces and
the ability to command and control these forces as the JFACC. The
JFACC exercises C2 of the JAOC. When the COMAFFOR is the JFACC, the
US Air Force component staff structure forms the nucleus for the JFACC staff
and augmentation is usually required from the theater MAJCOM. A notional
theater C2 environment is depicted in figure 3.1. Details on the organization and processes of an AOC can be found in AFDD 2, Organization and
Employment of Aerospace Power, and the AFDDs on Air Warfare and Airspace Control in the Combat Zone.
The COMAFFOR normally makes and executes command
decisions through the AOC. When elements or functions of the
AOC are placed in a geographically-separated location, the
COMAFFOR should have the same degree of control as if they were
forward-deployed. Support/supporting relationships must be
specific to ensure the COMAFFOR has the degree of control
required. An AOC director runs the daily operations of the center.
The notional AOC (figure 3.2)) has four divisions: strategy, combat
plans, combat operations, and air mobility. Specialty teams and
support teams augment these divisions. The creation of an ISR division is an emerging concept being considered for use. The COMAFFOR
Division XX
Brigade X
Battalion II
theater sensors
Flying Wings/
Figure 3.1. Notional Theater C2 Environment
Figure 3.2. Notional Aerospace Operations Center Components
Combat Plans
Combat Operations
Air Mobility
AOC Director
Specialty Teams Support Teams
has the latitude to stand up new AOC divisions based on situational needs
but should beware of creating additional “stovepipes” within the AOC.
NAFs are normally responsible for setting up AOCs and should tailor
them to meet specific mission requirements of commanding aerospace
power through execution. The key C2 processes of an AOC are developing
the air operations plan and master air attack plan; producing the ATO, special
instructions, and the airspace control order; executing the ATO; and assessing
and reporting the effects of aerospace operations in time for the next cycle of
The specialty teams are responsible for many operational aspects of
the AOC as well as many of the technical and liaison activities with the
supporting functional commands and other Services. Key C2 activities
include air defense, information-in-warfare, information warfare, joint fires,
combat search and rescue, legal, logistics, and weather. The primary function of AOC specialty teams is to support the planning and execution of
an ATO. They are also responsible for areas such as administration,
communications, information management, reporting, and supply.
The AFFOR headquarters should be comprised of normal staff directorates, A–1 through A–6, as well as a special staff. The A-staff
structure is used instead of the “traditional” US Air Force staff
designations (DO, LG, SC, etc.) to more readily identify the Air
Force component staff equivalents of the corresponding J-staff
functions. Figure 3.3 depicts the organization of a AFFOR headquarters.
Senior component liaison elements may not be needed in all cases as
required support can sometimes be obtained through reachback.
Figure 3.3. Notional Headquarters Organization (A–Staff)
Personal & Special
Senior Component
A–2 A–3 A–4 A–5 A–6
Personnel Intelligence Operations Logistics Plans Communications
Likewise, for very small or limited operations, a “full” A-staff may not be
The organization for a COMAFFOR who is dual-hatted as the JFACC is
the largest, most robust capability required and will include a full A-staff,
a JAOC, a JAOC director, and a Director of Mobility Forces (DIRMOBFOR).
The COMAFFOR staff normally forms the core for the JFACC staff;
however, the COMAFFOR staff still retains its function as the primary
provider for the Air Force component. The principal Air Force
component staff directorates (A–1 through A–6) normally assume
parallel JFACC staff duties. Augmentation from relevant Service
components ensures adequate joint representation.
Reachback is a generic term for obtaining forces, materiel, or
information support from Air Force organizations not forwarddeployed. Communications and information systems should provide a
seamless information flow of prioritized data to and from forward and rear
locations. Reachback C2 is normally provided from a supporting/supported
relationship. This relationship gives the forward-deployed COMAFFOR
the support necessary to conduct operations while maintaining a smaller
deployed footprint. Effective reachback C2 enhances the operational
capability and facilitates informed and timely decision making of the
engaged COMAFFOR.
Distributed operations occur when independent or interdependent nodes or locations participate in the operational planning
and/or operational decision-making process to accomplish goals/
missions for engaged commanders. For instance, space units
located in CONUS may assist the theater AOC’s operational planning
by adjusting Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite upload times to
increase weapon accuracy just prior to air strikes. While the relationships may vary according to the nature of the operation, the design of a
distributed operation should enable a more survivable C2 network
through distribution of tasks and information. In some instances, the
commander may establish a formal supported/supporting relationship
between distributed nodes. In other instances, distributed nodes may
have a horizontal relationship. Military commanders have used
distributed C2 for many years. The method and means for controlling
forces have changed, but military leaders have always distributed
their operations between multiple echelons. What has changed in recent
years is that technology enables more participants from greater distances
to create and manage complex networks.
Split operations is a type of distributed operations. It is
usually used to describe those distributed operations conducted by
a single C2 entity physically split between two or more geographic locations. The commander (normally the forward-deployed
COMAFFOR) should have the same degree of control over these
operations as if they were forward-deployed. For example, sections
of the ATO may be developed from a rear area or backup operation
center to reduce the deployed AOC footprint. In this case the AOC, the
single C2 entity, is geographically-separated and is a split operation.
Although distributed operations are similar to reachback, there is one
major difference. Reachback provides ongoing combat support to the
operation from the rear while a distributed operation indicates
actual involvement in operational planning and/or operational
decision making. Information technology advances may further
enhance distributed operations. It is critical to note that the goal of
effective distributed operations is to support the operational commander in
the field; it is not a method of command from the rear.
Most Air Force units are assigned to MAJCOMs and are made available
for taskings through their respective combatant commands where full
authority resides to organize and employ forces as necessary to accomplish assigned missions. These organizations are assigned to combatant
commanders that are normally tasked in the JCS warning order.
The US Air Force also has numerous other organizations capable of
being tasked to support deliberate or crisis action planning. Because
these organizations exist within the Service’s authority to organize, train,
and equip, they are not as visible for tasking and deployment through the
existing joint channels. See the Appendix for examples of those Air Force
organizations. These organizations may include civilians under contract
with the Air Force.
Theater COMAFFORs may obtain support from such Air Force
organizations by requesting that personnel deploy forward or they may
support in-place. Organizations remaining in-place can provide
reachback and/or distributed operations support to the COMAFFOR. The
COMAFFOR is the supported commander in these relationships. In cases
of deployed support, the theater COMAFFOR makes the request through both
the Service chain of command and combatant commander. The CSAF, through
the Air Force Operations Center, tasks the support. This capability is
then attached to the appropriate Air Force component within the
supported joint force. The chain of command remains in Air Force
channels. This type of supported/supporting relationship over
Service forces is known as “Air Force Support.” The establishment of Air Force support arrangements should be documented via memo
or message to include nature of support, estimated duration, and funding
guidance, as required.
In all cases when Air Force capabilities are needed, a formal
support relationship should be established between the supported
COMAFFOR and the supporting commander. This is true even when
forces are not required to deploy forward. As with deploying forces, the
supported commander should ensure that the supporting commander
understands exactly the type of assistance required and estimated
duration. The supporting commander will then provide the assistance as
directed by the CSAF. Figure 3.4 illustrates the command relationships
and the “Air Force Support” COMAFFORs should be granted for effective
C2 operations.
Figure 3.4. Command Relationships for Air Force Support
Aerospace Forces
supporting capabilities
assigned to combatant
Marine Component
Army Component
. Navy Component
. USAF Component
not assigned to
combatant commands
(see Appendix)
supporting capabilities
Because the NCA will normally approve “direct liaison authority
for all concerned” (DIRLAUTH ALCON), the Air Force can facilitate the provision of anticipated Air Force support. The Air Force
Operations Center will normally draft a message clarifying the specific
supporting/supported relationship of the designated “Air Force Support”.
This message should be transmitted when the Secretary of Defense and
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff send a warning order initiating a
contingency operation. All Air Force units likely to be tasked should be
identified so that they can determine their ability to contribute to the
effort. It is essential that the Air Force Operations Center and the Aerospace Expeditionary Center be involved in the planning as soon as possible. The appendix lists, but does not limit, organizations that should be
considered prior to sending the Air Force Support Planning message.
Combat support enables commanders to sustain and protect forces
and capabilities needed to accomplish assigned missions. US Air Force
commanders are responsible for combat support of US Air Force forces.
In multinational operations, commanders should consider integrating
host-nation resources or combining support efforts with allies. Effective
C2 of combat support forces allows operational commanders to
maintain mission readiness, conduct efficient operations, sustain
the force, and eliminate unnecessary duplication of effort among
the Service components. Support responsibilities for US Air Force forces,
subordinate to the combatant commander, should normally follow US Air
Force channels except when directed otherwise. Occasionally, Air Force
commanders should be prepared to accept single-Service responsibility
for common logistical items. For specific guidance, see AFDD 2-4, Combat Support.
JFCs and component commanders should ensure their plans fully
integrate combat and combat support operations. Planning and
prioritizing combat activities without considering combat support needs
will likely result in inefficient operations. A goal of US Air Force combat
support C2 is to maintain the balance between deployment planning,
sustainment planning, and employment planning. This should reduce
the commander’s need to rely on emergency measures and improvisations to support combat operations.
As described in AFDD 2-1, Nuclear Operations, survivable C2 is vital to
support US nuclear deterrence strategy. Without survivable C2, deterrence is not possible as the decision processes become dominated by
dangerous use-or-lose considerations. Nuclear C2 operations provide positive control of nuclear weapons and allow the National
Command Authorities (NCA) to make authorization decisions
during war.
US Air Force forces assigned or attached to United States Strategic
Command (USSTRATCOM) execute strategic military operations under
direct control of the NCA. The functional nature of USSTRATCOM’s
organization allows joint task force commanders to exercise operational
control of nuclear forces. The senior US Air Force officer (COMAFFOR)
in the task force exercises ADCON of US Air Force members.
Nuclear C2 operations use rigorous processes and procedures to
ensure total control of nuclear weapons. This rigor starts in the strategic
level planning process that produces the Single Integrated Operation Plan.
At the theater level, warfighting commands should integrate nuclear
weapons planning if the selected course of action calls for it. If the
employment of nuclear weapons is authorized, a series of emergency
action procedures are executed to comply with the authorization. Weapon
system safety rules ensure that detonation of a nuclear weapon is
intentional and authorized.
Command and control systems, such as the Global Command and
Control System (GCCS), are designed to communicate the authorization
decision. C2 security plays a vital role in ensuring valid authorization
orders are communicated to the nuclear forces. Encoding and decoding
processes ensure nuclear authorization orders can be transmitted rapidly
and securely through available channels. Routine communications use
all available C2 systems, since exclusive use of secure channels significantly slows information flow. Redundancy of C2 systems is also another
key aspect of nuclear C2 operations. Critical information can be sent via
redundant communications systems such as landlines, available circuits
on communications satellites, or low frequency radio equipment. Nuclear
C2 operations are often the drivers for interoperable and survivable C2
US Air Force space forces are organized for unity of command.
Space commanders work through centralized control and decentralized execution. At the strategic warfighting command level, United
States Space Command (USSPACECOM) is a functional unified command
containing Army, Navy, and Air Force components and is responsible for
space missions. Fourteenth Air Force (14 AF), designated Air Force
Space Forces (SPACEAF), serves as the Air Force component to
USSPACECOM. All Air Force space assets assigned or attached
to USSPACECOM should normally be under the Commander, Air
Force Space Forces (COMSPACEAF). The Commander in Chief of
USSPACECOM (USCINCSPACE) should normally delegate OPCON
of Air Force forces to COMSPACEAF.
Most US Air Force space assets have global responsibilities that will
prevent them from being under OPCON of a theater JFC. The JFC, as the
supported commander, should exercise general direction of available space
assets. Normally the JFC designates a subordinate commander,
preferably the JFACC, as the single point of contact for space
operations supporting the theater. The JFACC has expert space personnel in the JAOC to perform this function. Thus, general direction of space
assets should normally reside with the JFACC who ensures that requests
for space support are consolidated, prioritized, deconflicted, and forwarded
through the established support relationship with COMSPACEAF or other
supporting space agencies (i.e., DIR NRO, COMNAVSPACE, etc.). This single
point of contact should have direct liaison authorized (DIRLAUTH)
authority with COMSPACEAF.
A working example of command relationships and command authorities is found with GPS accuracy. The accuracy may be modified for a
given terrestrial region to produce a desired combat effect. Since GPS is
simultaneously used by multiple CINCs, operational control cannot be
given to any one CINC. Therefore, this combat effect should be requested
by the supported commander, coordinated at the strategic and operational
levels of war by USCINCSPACE or his designated commander, and
executed by space operators.
As specified in JP 0-2, USCINCSPACE and the supported CINC must
predetermine support relationships. To streamline the process, the US
Air Force has created robust, capable, and frequently exercised
command and control links between the aerospace operations centers in
the regional commands and SPACEAF’s aerospace operations center. This
allows supported commanders, such as the JFACC, to “own the effects”
they need COMSPACEAF to produce, even if COMSPACEAF cannot
transfer OPCON of his forces to the supported commanders.
Aerospace operations centers employ warfighters trained to specific
standards. They use interoperable command and control processes and
technology, including a common operating picture, and draw upon
information from shared databases. This distributed operations capability allows for integrated aerospace operations and robust reachback
capability. The US Air Force will continue its stewardship of space and
will satisfy the space needs of both USCINCSPACE and other CINCs through
the distributed command and control system.
Rapid global mobility is central to maintaining US presence and
influence around the world. AFDD 2-6, Air Mobility Operations, covers
the details of air mobility command and control. The Commander in
Chief, US Transportation Command (USCINCTRANS), normally
retains OPCON of assigned forces necessary to accomplish global
(intertheater) mobility missions and exercises OPCON of air
mobility forces through the commander, tanker airlift control
center (TACC). The TACC acts as the single point of contact for intertheater
air mobility customers and providers. A critical-enabling feature of the
TACC is its robust global C2 system.
When forward-deployed in support of a regional operation,
OPCON or TACON of air mobility forces may go forward to the
supported CINC, who will normally exercise this controlling
authority through the COMAFFOR/JFACC. The COMAFFOR/JFACC
should normally be given OPCON, rather than TACON, over intratheater
assets to support joint force requirements.
The COMAFFOR/JFACC exercises intratheater air mobility command
and control through the Director, Air Mobility Forces (DIRMOBFOR) and
Air Mobility Division (AMD) of the AOC. The size, composition, and
layout of the AMD element will vary, but its core task of integrating air
mobility operations into the overall aerospace function remains constant.
To support the integration of inter- and intratheater air mobility
operations, USTRANSCOM normally places an Air Mobility Element
(AME) in or near the AMD, with the assigned mission of ensuring
that the Joint Force receives the maximum support possible from
the intertheater forces and/or capabilities allocated by the NCA. Additionally, USTRANSCOM will normally place air mobility support units,
such as Tanker-Airlift Control Elements (TALCEs) and Air Mobility Teams
(AMTs) within the theater to support inter- and intratheater operations.
Depending on mission requirements, the TACC may position tanker
aircraft and crews in preparation for deployment and may coordinate
with the theater Air Mobility Operations Control Centers (AMOCC) for
theater air refueling support. During a combat operation, the highest
priority for intratheater air refueling forces is normally supporting
combat and combat support aircraft executing the air campaign. Tankers
allocated for theater support may also be called upon to provide air
refueling for air bridge operations. The DIRMOBFOR must judge the
capabilities of and requirements for tankers assigned or attached to the theater
to determine their ability to provide air bridge support. When air bridge
support operations will adversely impact theater support operations,
the JFACC must consider the JFC’s overall campaign objectives when
deciding how to allocate tanker missions.
Since mobility forces often are the first to arrive in theater, these forces
bring organic C2 systems with them. These C2 systems may be the only
connectivity link during the initial stages of the operation. As such, the
on-scene commander may require the use of these C2 assets for purposes
beyond mobility operations. Crisis planning should account for such
scenarios, as operations other than war become more common.
Assigned US Air Force special operations forces (AFSOF) in
theater are under COCOM of the geographic combatant commander. Operational control of theater AFSOF is normally
exercised through the theater special operations command (SOC).
The SOC is a subunified command that functions as the special
operations component for the theater. The theater SOC commander
advises the theater CINC and other component commanders in all areas
of special operations, providing them with the expertise to plan the
employment of special operations forces (SOF). The theater SOC fully
integrates special operations forces into theater and country peacetime
plans, as well as the geographic CINCs’ war plans.
The SOC also provides the nucleus for the establishment of a joint
special operations task force (JSOTF). The JSOTF may fight alone;
however, it is normally employed under a larger JTF. The theater SOC
commander is responsible to the geographic CINC for planning and
conducting joint special operations in the theater, ensuring that SOF
capabilities are matched to mission requirements, exercising OPCON
for joint special operations, and advising the CINC and component
commanders in-theater on the employment of SOF.
When AFSOF deploys to conduct non-special operations missions,
AFSOF should be attached to the JFACC via the Commander Air Force
Forces (COMAFFOR). When conducting a purely special operations
mission, AFSOF should be attached to the JSOTF. When both special
operations and conventional missions are planned for AFSOF, the JFC,
based on inputs from appropriate subordinate functional commanders,
determines command relationships. When AFSOF are not conducting
operations assigned by the JFACC, a Joint Special Operations Air
Component Commander (JSOACC) subordinate to the JSOTF becomes
the single airmen responsible for AFSOF mission execution. Additionally, the Special Operations Liaison Element (SOLE), provided by the
JFSOTF, works in the Joint Air Operations Center (JAOC) to coordinate,
deconflict, and integrate air and surface operations within the JFACC’s
battlespace. Regardless of assigned missions and C2 arrangements,
it is critical that AFSOF are integrated into the air tasking order
(ATO) and properly adhere to the airspace control order (ACO) to
ensure the JFACC’s operations are unimpeded. The COMAFFOR has
ADCON of Air Force special operations component forces. Thus the
COMAFFOR is responsible for supplying combat support.
Given the mission and capabilities of AFSOF, these forces use a variety
of organic C2 systems. AFSOF should ensure organic C2 systems are
compatible with supported commands. When civilian connectivity or
security issues are paramount, custom sensors and special
communications equipment are often needed to accomplish the mission.
C2 operators need specialized training to effectively use the custom mix
of C2 systems. During operations, commanders should make risk
management decisions on interoperability, sustainability, and security
issues incurred by these C2 systems.
Information superiority is the capability to collect, process, and
disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denying an adversary’s ability to do the same. AFDD 2-5,
Information Operations, further qualifies the definition as “that degree of
dominance in the information domain, which allows friendly forces the ability
to collect, control, exploit, and defend information without effective opposition.”
Fundamental to the Air Force’s success is its ability to focus on the
effects necessary to achieve campaign objectives, whether at the
strategic, operational or tactical levels. Commanders should clearly
articulate the objectives, or goals, of a given military operation.
Effects should then flow from objectives as a product of the
military operations designed to help achieve those objectives.
Planners should design specific operations to achieve the desired
strategic, operational, or tactical effects.
The Air Force conducts information operations at the strategic,
operational, and tactical levels. Command and control of strategic
information operations (IO) is done at the national level. The NCA coordinates strategic IO with supporting US Air Force units. At the operational
level, coordination of information operations among the components is
normally accomplished at the JFC level. The COMAFFOR/JFACC
proactively develops, coordinates and integrates information operation
activities within the AOC/JAOC.
In an aerospace operations center, operational-level information
operations should always include information-in-warfare (IIW) activities
such as ISR. IIW activities feed the C2 processes necessary to plan and
execute aerospace operations. IIW operations are the responsibilities of
the various specialty teams such as the ISR team. Information warfare
(IW) operations, such as defensive counterinformation and offensive
counterinformation, are the responsibility of the IW specialty team. The
COMAFFOR/JFACC must coordinate their actions with any established
information operation efforts at the JFC-level and all participating
support commanders.
IW planners in the AOC should recommend targets to support
the theater campaign plan. Targeting begins with the commander’s
intent, a strategy-to-task methodology, and includes legal and political
guidelines. Following these instructions, the targeting process relies on clearly
delineated national, theater, and command objectives and the effects required
to achieve them to devise a maximum payoff for each course of action. JFCs
establish broad planning objectives and guidance for attack of an
adversary’s strategic and operational centers of gravity and defense of
friendly strategic and operational centers of gravity as an integral part of
joint campaigns and major operations. The IW planners evaluate information target systems, functional relationships, and friendly and adversary
critical nodes and recommend appropriate offensive counterinformation and
defensive counterinformation missions for inclusion in the ATO. The
COMAFFOR/JFACC should devise robust plans of attack using both
kinetic and non-kinetic means to achieve the desired effects. In the weapon
selection and force application stage, target vulnerabilities are matched
with weapons characteristics to produce optimal target nominations.
The Combat Plans Division, integrates IW target nominations into attack
plans and tasking orders. Using JFC guidance, apportionment, and the
approved target list, the master air attack plan team provides details on
the execution of this guidance using available resources. The ATO and
ACO production team converts the master air attack plan into a tasking
and associated special instructions (SPINS). At the tactical level, C2 of IW
operations should be planned and executed in a similar manner to C2 of
aerospace operations.
Operators from across the US Air Force play a significant role in
making decisions that determine the appropriate employment of
aerospace power. To employ C2, operators require state-of-the-art
equipment and focused C2 training. The US Air Force has been
transforming for over a decade and relies on leveraging technology in a
changing strategic environment. Recurring training with C2 technology allows airmen to develop unique C2 skills and experience. These
personnel become an indispensable part of any aerospace team. Command and control operators plan, coordinate, direct, and control
aerospace forces, and provide the commander with the information
required for informed decision making.
C2 operators function in war within an environment that cannot be
precisely duplicated in peacetime. Many C2 operators work continuously
in C2 operations; others perform these duties only in times of crisis. Therefore, realistic training on actual C2 equipment is critical to developing
personnel with the judgment, experience, and instincts necessary to
effectively perform C2 tasks. People, technology elements, and processes
make C2 a force multiplier. Commanders must ensure their people
are fully proficient at using designated C2 systems when
performing wartime duties.
We are critically reliant on technology to overcome the C2 obstacles
of distance and time; however, the commercial sector outspends
I will tell you that a commander without the proper C2 assets
commands nothing except a desk. You must have the ability to
communicate with the forces under your command. You must have
the ability to exchange information with them freely, frequently,
and on a global basis. It’s one thing to have highly technical,
sophisticated observation platforms, but if you can’t use the
information in a timely manner, it’s wasted.
General Ronald R. Fogleman
the US Government on C2 systems. The US Air Force should take
full advantage of the commercial sector by implementing and improving partnering efforts. Commanders should fully integrate commercial and government C2 capabilities when planning operations,
but will still have to specify unique military interoperability,
sustainability, and security requirements when needed by the
warfighter. Commanders should also consider the operational risks and
benefits of commercial C2 technology as the adversary might be using
the same systems.
An advantage enjoyed by the US Air Force is the close relationship
between C2 acquisition and operations. The Air Force uses specialized
centers to integrate C2 acquisition and operations with C2 training
and experimentation. These centers ensure people, processes,
and technology work together, thereby becoming an asset valued
highly by joint force commanders.
To deliver peak performance, individuals must develop and
maintain proficiency in the operation of C2 systems. Initial and
proficiency training are tools for developing and maintaining
operator proficiency. C2 training should continually prepare
individuals for their specific roles and responsibilities as they
progress within their functional areas. Operators should receive
a common core of C2 training, covering US Air Force and joint
doctrine, strategy, employment, and operational art topics. In
addition to developing basic C2 skills and providing training for each
person in the C2 hierarchy, a C2 training system must encourage
flexibility of thought and creative problem-solving skills
necessary when under stress and in unfamiliar environments. C2
training should include realistic exercises. Technology advances
in visualization, communications, and simulation increase the realism
of exercises. These allow participants to experience more realistic
individual and team training.
Training qualified operators to augment C2 operations presents a
significant challenge. The first step toward a solution is identifying
and tracking C2-trained personnel throughout the total force. C2
augmentees can then be trained to the requirements of their assigned
AEF. Ensuring standardized C2 training across the total force lays a sound
foundation and develops the skills necessary for the employment of C2
C2 system application training should be an integral part of each
new C2 system acquisition. When developing C2 systems, the US Air
Force should consider training requirements co-equal with operability,
sustainability, and reliability requirements in system design. Initial C2
system training may be provided by Air Education and Training
Command (AETC) or by contractors as designated by AETC. Recurring
training on new C2 systems will almost always be needed as the system
matures. Thus, MAJCOMs receiving the new C2 system should
coordinate with AETC; Air Force Materiel Command; and the Aerospace
Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Center on recurring training plans and requirements.
Frequent and varied exercises provide commanders with feedback to
control training and readiness. To provide a realistic assessment, it is
crucial that C2 be exercised as an overall system rather than a
series of individual components. Exercises like Blue Flag, involving
multiple units and various C2 systems, provide needed complexity to
train operators. Both joint and coalition C2 elements should be incorporated whenever feasible. Training across the spectrum of military
operations may include actual operations in addition to simulations and
exercises. Participation in these operations enhances the readiness of the
entire force.
Airmen require appropriate level training throughout their careers.
Senior-level officers likely to be assigned to joint force staffs need training
in assimilating and using the products generated by the various C2
systems. NAF commanders, as potential joint task force commanders
and JFACCs, may require senior-level C2 training. Airmen likely to serve
in AOCs or similar organizations should receive appropriate MAJCOMor NAF-sponsored C2 training. Airmen and civilians required to
maintain and administer C2 systems should receive the appropriate
technical and vendor-level training. Generally, experience-appropriate
C2 training should become an integral part of the normal career
progression of all airmen.
The objective of aerospace C2 is to use available forces, at the
right place and time, to optimize the attributes of global
vigilance, reach, and power—thereby ensuring decision dominance
over adversaries. The enabler of this objective is good horizontal and
vertical information flow within aerospace operation centers. These
information flows, and their timely fusion, enable optimum decision
making. This allows the centralized control and decentralized execution
so essential to effective aerospace command. By having a robust, redundant C2 system, we provide a commander the ability to command and
control his forces despite the “fog and friction of war” while simultaneously
minimizing the enemy’s capability to interfere with the same.
Making timely and informed decisions is at the heart of C2. The
information age, however, foreshadows new opportunities for informed
decision making while it simultaneously threatens a commander with
“information overload,” challenging his ability to synthesize data and
make timely decisions. Therefore, the identification of mission essential
information is paramount to successful information flow. Much of this
information is provided in the commander’s estimate of the situation, course
of action selection, and detailed plans. By analyzing these products, the
commander can determine the information he needs to conduct
operations and filter out the unnecessary.
Experimentation, innovation and training in command and
control are essential to harness the revolution in military
affairs. Rapidly advancing technology makes reachback and
distributed C2 operations more possible and practical. How well a
commander orchestrates all of these capabilities in aerospace
expeditionary force operations may be the new measure of “the
genius of the commander.”
At the Very Heart of Warfare Lies Doctrine . . .
The commander must work in a medium which his eyes cannot see,
which his best deductive powers cannot always fathom, and with which,
because of constant changes, he can rarely become familiar.
Carl von Clausewitz
On War
Suggested Reading
Clodfelter, Mark, The Limits of Airpower (Free Press). 1989.
Coakley, Thomas P., Command and Control for War and Peace, (National
Defense University Press). 1992.
Davis, Richard G., Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe, (Smithsonian
Institution Press). 1992.
Kenney, George, General Kenney Reports, (Air Force History & Museums).
Van Creveld, Martin L., Command in War, (Harvard University Press). 1985.
Official Publications
Air Force Doctrine Document 2, Organization and Employment of Aerospace Power, 2000.
Air Force Instruction (AFI) 33-118, Radio Frequency Spectrum Management, (Electronic).
The Air War over Serbia, Aerospace Power in Operation ALLIED FORCE,
April 2000.
Joint Publication (JP) 0-2, Unified Action Armed Forces (UNAAF).
JP 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations.
JP 3-30 (formerly JP 3-56.1), Command and Control for Joint Air Operations.
JP 5-0, Doctrine for Planning Joint Operations.
JP 6-0, Doctrine for Command, Control, Communications, and Computer (C4)
Systems Support to Joint Operations.
Modeling and Simulation
Air Force Agency for
Conducts modeling and simulation programs
and initiatives.
Surveillance and
Aerospace Command
and Control Intelligence
Reconnaissance Center
Air Force-wide focal point for all command
and control, intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance issues.
ANG Readiness Center
Provides information to forces providing
contingency augmentation.
Any Air Staff DCS or
Directorate or MAJCOM
as required
Provides policy, guidance, and oversight
for Air Force FOAs, DRUs, and functional
area expertise of organic Air Force capa
Air Force Audit Agency
Audits for efficiency and effectiveness.
Quality and Manage
Air Force Center for
ment Innovation
Provides innovative, expert management
capabilities to USAF organizations.
to CSAF and Air Force Components world
Provides operational planning assistance
Checkmate (AF/XOOC)
Battlelabs, and ACTDs.
Provides policy, guidance, and oversight
for key Air Force Exercises, Wargames,
Wargaming and Experi
mentation Division
Provides the best tools, practices, and pro
fessional support for base-level and con
tingency operations.
ing Support Agency
Air Force Civil Engineer
tions and Information
Air Force Communica
tion expertise and services.
Provides communications and informa
Air Force Doctrine Center
Focal point for aerospace doctrine and
wingman support to warfighters.
Air Force Flight Standards
Performs worldwide flight inspections of
airfields and flight instrumentation/navi
gation systems.
Air Force Weather
Enhances combat power by providing
quality weather and space products.
Air Force Safety Center
Manages USAF mishap prevention pro
grams and Nuclear Surety Programs.
Warfare Center
Air Force Information
Provides expertise for Infomation Opera
Air Force Intelligence
Provides intelligence expertise in the areas
of C2 protection, security, aquisition, foreign
weapons systems and technology, and treaty
Air Force Legal Services
Provides commanders with specialized
legal services.
Air Force Logistics
Management Agency
Develops, analyzes, tests, evaluates, and
recommends new or improved logistical
Air Force Medical
Operations Agency
Develops programs to improve aero
space medicine and preventive and
clinical healthcare services.
Air Force Office of
Special Investigations
Provides criminal investigative, coun
terintelligence information, and force
protection services to commanders.
Provides OT&E expertise from concept to
employment to meet warfighter mission
Test and Evaluation
Air Force Operational
Air Force Operations
Operations with 24-hour watch on current
Supports CSAF and DCS for Air and Space
operations and processing emergency
Develops, integrates, and delivers afford
of government, industry, and academia.
able technologies for improved warfight
ing capabilities, by leading a partnership
Air Force Research
Air Force Personnel
Provide personnel operations service.
Air Force Security Forces
Manages requirements for safeguarding
and protecting personnel and resources.
Abbreviations and Acronyms
area air defense commander
airspace control authority
administrative control
Aerospace Expeditionary Force
Air Education and Training Command
Air Force Reserve Command
Air Force doctrine document
Air Force Instruction
Air Force Policy Directive
Air Force Space Command
Air Force special operations forces
Air Mobility Command
air mobility element
Air National Guard
area of operations
aerospace operations center
air tasking order
Airborne Warning and Control System
command and control
Combined Force Air Component Commander
commander in chief; commander of a combatant
course of action
combatant command (command authority)
Commander, Air Force Forces
Commander, Air Force Space Forces
Chief of Staff, United States Air Force
direct liaison authorized
Director of Mobility Forces
Defense Satellite Communications System
Global Command and Control System
ground-controlled intercept
global positioning system
identification friend or foe
International Telecommunications Satellite Organi
information operations
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
information warfare
joint air operations center
joint air operations plan
joint force air component commander
joint force commander
Joint Operation Planning and Execution System
joint special operations task force
Joint Surveillance, Target Attack Radar System
Joint Technical Architecture
Joint Technical Architecture – Air Force
joint task force
major command
monitor, assess, plan, and execute
military operations other than war
numbered air force
National Command Authorities
operational control
operational risk management
RF radio frequency
satellite communications
Single Integrated Operation Plan
space operations center
special operations forces
tanker airlift control center
tactical control
tactics, techniques, and procedures
Unified Action Armed Forces
United States Air Force
Commander in Chief, United States Space Command
Commander in Chief, United States Transportation
United States Special Operations Command
United States Space Command
United States Strategic Command
United States Transportation Command
administrative control. Direction or exercise of authority over subordinate or other organizations in respect to administration and support,
including organization of Service forces, control of resources and equipment,
personnel management, unit logistics, individual and unit training,
readiness, mobilization, demobilization, discipline, and other matters not
included in the operational missions of the subordinate or other organizations. Also called ADCON. (JP 1-02)
aerospace power. The use of lethal and nonlethal means by aerospace
forces to achieve strategic, operational, and tactical objectives. (AFDD 2)
airlift. Operations to transport and deliver forces and materiel through the
air in support of strategic, operational, or tactical objectives. (AFDD 1)
apportionment. In the general sense, distribution for planning of
limited resources among competing requirements. Specific apportionments (e.g., air sorties and forces for planning) are described as
apportionment of air sorties and forces for planning, etc. (JP 1-02)
assign. 1. To place units or personnel in an organization where such
placement is relatively permanent, and/or where such organization
controls and administers the units or personnel for the primary function,
or greater portion of the functions, of the unit or personnel. 2. To detail
individuals to specific duties or functions where such duties or functions
are primary and/or relatively permanent. See also attach. (JP 1-02)
attach. 1. The placement of units or personnel in an organization where
such placement is relatively temporary. 2. The detailing of individuals to
specific functions where such functions are secondary or relatively
temporary, e.g., attached for quarters and rations; attached for flying duty.
See also assign. (JP 1-02)
battlespace. The commander’s conceptual view of the area and factors
that he must understand to successfully apply combat power, protect the
force, and complete the mission. It encompasses all applicable aspects of
air, sea, space, and land operations that the commander must consider in
planning and executing military operations. The battlespace dimensions
can change over time as the mission expands or contracts according to
operational objectives and force composition. Battlespace provides the
commander a mental forum for analyzing and selecting courses of action
for employing military forces in relationship to time, tempo, and depth.
(AFDD 1)
combatant command (command authority). Nontransferable
command authority established by title 10, (“Armed Forces”), United States
Code, section 164, exercised only by commanders of unified or specified
combatant commands unless otherwise directed by the President or the
Secretary of Defense. Combatant command (command authority)
cannot be delegated and is the authority of a combatant commander to
perform those functions of command over assigned forces involving
organizing and employing commands and forces, assigning tasks, designating objectives, and giving authoritative direction over all aspects of
military operations, joint training, and logistics necessary to accomplish
the missions assigned to the command. Combatant command (command
authority) should be exercised through the commanders of subordinate
organizations. Normally, this authority is exercised through subordinate
joint force commanders and Service and/or functional component
commanders. Combatant command (command authority) provides full
authority to organize and employ commands and forces as the combatant
commander considers necessary to accomplish assigned missions.
Operational control is inherent in combatant command (command
authority). Also called COCOM. (JP 1-02)
command. The authority that a commander in the Armed Forces
lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue of rank or assignment. Command includes the authority and responsibility for effectively using
available resources and for planning the employment of, organizing,
directing, coordinating, and controlling military forces for the
accomplishment of assigned missions. It also includes responsibility for
health, welfare, morale, and discipline of assigned personnel. (JP 1-02)
The Air Force also believes that force protection of personnel is the
responsibility of its commanders. Today’s full spectrum employment of
aerospace forces requires command responsibility to also include force
protection. [An order given by a commander; that is, the will of the
commander expressed for the purpose of bringing about a particular action. A
unit or units, an organization, or an area under the command of one
individual.] Italicized definition in brackets applies only to the Air
Force and is offered for clarity. See also air command; area command;
base command; combatant command; combatant command (command
command and control. The exercise of authority and direction by a
properly designated commander over assigned and attached forces in the
accomplishment of the mission. Command and control functions are
performed through an arrangement of personnel, equipment, communications, facilities, and procedures employed by a commander in
planning, directing, coordinating, and controlling forces and operations
in the accomplishment of the mission. Also called C2. (JP 1-02)
Defense Information Infrastructure. The shared or interconnected
system of computers, communications, data applications, security, people,
training, and other support structures serving DOD local, national, and
worldwide information needs. The Defense Information Infrastructure
connects DOD mission support, command and control, and intelligence
computers through voice, telecommunications, imagery, video, and
multimedia services. It provides information processing and services to
subscribers over the Defense Information Systems Network and includes
command and control, tactical, intelligence, and commercial communications systems used to transmit DOD information. Also called DII. (JP 1-02)
distributed operations. The process of conducting operations from
independent or interdependent nodes in a teaming manner. Some
operational planning or decision-making may occur from outside the
joint area of operations. The goal of a distributed operation is to support the operational commander in the field; it is not a method of
command from the rear.
doctrine. Fundamental principles by which the military forces or
elements thereof guide their actions in support of national objectives. It
is authoritative but requires judgment in application. (JP 1-02)
force protection. Security program designed to protect Service
members, civilian employees, family members, facilities, and equipment,
in all locations and situations, accomplished through planned and
integrated application of combating terrorism, physical security, operations security, personal protective services and supported by intelligence,
counterintelligence, and other security programs. (JP 1-02) [The prevention of successful hostile actions against friendly combat power while it is not
directly engaged with the enemy. Force Protection measures may be defensive
(passive and active) or offensive, and include the actions of every element of a
combat force, encompassing the supporting community and individuals.]
Italicized definition in brackets applies only to the Air Force and is
offered for clarity. (AFDD 2)
fusion. Process of combining/aggregating data to derive a more
complete assessment of a specific capability, action, or situation.
information. 1. Facts, data, or instructions in any medium or form.
2. The meaning that a human assigns to data by means of the known
conventions used in their representation. (JP 1-02)
information-in-warfare. Involves the Air Force’s extensive capabilities
to provide global awareness throughout the range of military operations
based on integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)
assets; information collection/dissemination activities; and global
navigation and positioning, weather, and communications capabilities.
Also called IIW. (AFDD 2-5)
information operations. Actions taken to affect adversary information
and information systems while defending one’s own information and
information systems. Also called IO. (JP 1-02). Those actions taken to
gain, exploit, defend or attack information and information systems. This
includes both information-in-warfare (IIW) and information warfare (IW).
Italicized definition in brackets applies only to the Air Force and is
offered for clarity. (AFDD 2)
information warfare. Actions taken to affect adversary information and
information systems, while defending one’s own information and
information systems. (JP 1-02)
intelligence. 1. The product resulting from the collection, processing,
integration, analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of available
information concerning foreign countries or areas. 2. Information
and knowledge about an adversary obtained through observation, investigation, analysis, or understanding. (JP 1-02)
joint doctrine. Fundamental principles that guide the employment of
forces of two or more Services in coordinated action toward a common
objective. It will be promulgated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, in coordination with the combatant commands, Services, and Joint
Staff. See also doctrine. (JP 1-02)
joint force. A general term applied to a force composed of significant
elements, assigned or attached, of two or more Military Departments,
operating under a single joint force commander. See also joint force
commander. (JP 1-02)
joint force air component commander. The joint force air component commander derives authority from the joint force commander who
has the authority to exercise operational control, assign missions, direct
coordination among subordinate commanders, redirect and organize forces
to ensure unity of effort in the accomplishment of the overall mission.
The joint force commander will normally designate a joint force air
component commander. The joint force air component commander’s
responsibilities will be assigned by the joint force commander (normally
these would include, but not be limited to, planning, coordination, allocation, and tasking based on the joint force commander’s apportionment
decision). Using the joint force commander’s guidance and authority,
and in coordination with other Service component commanders and other
assigned or supporting commanders, the joint force air component
commander will recommend to the joint force commander apportionment of air sorties to various missions or geographic areas. Also called
JFACC. See also joint force commander. (JP 1-02)
joint force commander. A general term applied to a combatant
commander, subunified commander, or joint task force commander
authorized to exercise combatant command (command authority) or
operational control over a joint force. Also called JFC. See also joint
force. (JP 1-02)
joint task force. A joint force that is constituted and so designated by
the Secretary of Defense, a combatant commander, a subunified
commander, or an existing joint task force commander. Also called JTF.
(JP 1-02)
Joint Technical Architecture—Air Force (JTA-AF). The Joint Technical Architecture-Air Force (JTA-AF) forms the foundation for information
transfer and processing within the Air Force and is essential to system
interoperability. It complements the Joint Technical Architecture (JTA) and
provides the minimal set of rules governing the arrangement, interaction,
and interdependence of Air Force system components. It provides the framework of engineering specifications, common building blocks, and product
lines which guides system implementations. This technical architecture is based on operational architecture requirements and will constrain
systems architecture development. (HQ USAF/SC)
logistics. The science of planning and carrying out the movement and
maintenance of forces. In its most comprehensive sense, those aspects of
military operations that deal with: a. design and development, acquisition,
storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation, and disposition
of materiel; b. movement, evacuation, and hospitalization of personnel;
c. acquisition or construction, maintenance, operation, and disposition of
facilities; and d. acquisition or furnishing of services. (JP 1-02)
military strategy. The art and science of employing the armed forces of
a nation to secure the objectives of national policy by the application of
force or the threat of force. (JP 1-02)
National Command Authorities. The President and the Secretary of Defense
or their duly deputized alternates or successors. Also called NCA. (JP 1-02)
national strategy. The art and science of developing and using the
political, economic, and psychological powers of a nation, together with its
armed forces, during peace and war, to secure national objectives. (JP 1-02)
operational control. Transferable command authority that may be
exercised by commanders at any echelon at or below the level of combatant command. Operational control is inherent in combatant command
(command authority). Operational control may be delegated and is the
authority to perform those functions of command over subordinate forces
involving organizing and employing commands and forces, assigning tasks,
designating objectives, and giving authoritative direction necessary to
accomplish the mission. Operational control includes authoritative direction over all aspects of military operations and joint training necessary to
accomplish missions assigned to the command. Operational control should
be exercised through the commanders of subordinate organizations.
Normally this authority is exercised through subordinate joint force
commanders and Service and/or functional component commanders.
Operational control normally provides full authority to organize commands
and forces and to employ those forces as the commander in operational
control considers necessary to accomplish assigned missions. Operational
control does not, in and of itself, include authoritative direction for
logistics or matters of administration, discipline, internal organization, or
unit training. Also called OPCON. (JP 1-02)
operational level of war. The level of war at which campaigns and
major operations are planned, conducted, and sustained to accomplish
strategic objectives within theaters or areas of operations. Activities at
this level link tactics and strategy by establishing operational objectives
needed to accomplish the strategic objectives, sequencing events to achieve
the operational objectives, initiating actions, and applying resources to
bring about and sustain these events. These activities imply a broader
dimension of time or space than do tactics; they ensure the logistic and
administrative support of tactical forces, and provide the means by which
tactical successes are exploited to achieve strategic objectives. (JP 1-02)
operational risk management. The systematic process of identifying
hazards, assessing risks, analyzing risk control measures, making control
decisions, implementing risk controls, and supervising and reviewing
the process. Commanders accept the residual risks. (AFI 91-213)
reachback. The process of obtaining forces, materiel or information
support from Air Force organizations not forward-stationed or forwarddeployed.
reconnaissance. A mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation
or other detection methods, information about the activities and resources
of an enemy or potential enemy, or to secure data concerning the meteorological, hydrographic, or geographic characteristics of a particular area.
(JP 1-02)
special operations. Operations conducted by specially organized, trained,
and equipped military and paramilitary forces to achieve military, political, economic, or informational objectives by unconventional military
means in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive areas. These operations
are conducted across the full range of military operations, independently
or in coordination with operations of conventional, non-special operations forces. Political-military considerations frequently shape special
operations, requiring clandestine, covert, or low visibility techniques and
oversight at the national level. Special operations differ from conventional operations in degree of physical and political risk, operational
techniques, mode of employment, independence from friendly support,
and dependence on detailed operational intelligence and indigenous assets. Also called SO. (JP 1-02)
spectrum management. Planning, coordinating, and managing joint
use of the electromagnetic spectrum through operational, engineering,
and administrative procedures, with the objective of enabling electronics
systems to perform their functions in the intended environment without
causing or suffering unacceptable interference. (AFI 33-118)
split operations. One type of distributed operations. It describes those
distributed operations conducted by a single C2 entity that is separated
between two or more geographic locations. A single commander must
have oversight of all aspects of a split C2 operation.
strategic level of war. The level of war at which a nation, often as a
member of a group of nations, determines national or multinational
(alliance or coalition) security objectives and guidance, and develops and
uses national resources to accomplish those objectives. Activities at this
level establish national and multinational military objectives; sequence
initiatives; define limits and assess risks for the use of military and other
instruments of national power; develop global plans or theater war plans
to achieve these objectives; and provide military forces and other
capabilities in accordance with strategic plans. (JP 1-02)
strategy. The art and science of developing and using political,
economic, psychological, and military forces as necessary during peace
and war, to afford the maximum support to policies, in order to increase
the probabilities and favorable consequences of victory and to lessen the
chances of defeat. (JP 1-02)
surveillance. The systematic observation of aerospace, surface or
subsurface areas, places, persons, or things, by visual, aural, electronic,
photographic, or other means. (JP 1-02)
sustainment. The Air Force’s ability to maintain operations once forces
engage. Sustainment involves the provision of personnel, logistics, and
other support required to maintain and prolong operations or combat until
successful accomplishment or revision of the mission or of the national
objective. (AFDD 1-2).
tactical control. Command authority over assigned or attached forces
or commands, or military capability or forces made available for tasking,
that is limited to the detailed and, usually, local direction and control of
movements or maneuvers necessary to accomplish missions or tasks
assigned. Tactical control is inherent in operational control. Tactical
control may be delegated to, and exercised at any level at or below the
level of combatant command. Also called TACON. (JP 1-02)
tactical level of war. The level of war at which battles and engagements
are planned and executed to accomplish military objectives assigned to
tactical units or task forces. Activities at this level focus on the ordered
arrangement and maneuver of combat elements in relation to each other
and to the enemy to achieve combat objectives. (JP 1-02)
tactics. 1. The employment of units in combat. 2. The ordered arrangement and maneuver of units in relation to each other and/or to the
enemy in order to use their full potentialities. (JP 1-02)
theater. The geographical area outside the continental United States for
which a commander of a combatant command has been assigned responsibility. (JP 1-02)
war. Open and often prolonged conflict between nations (or organized
groups within nations) to achieve national objectives. (AFDD 1)

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