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Force Protection: A Need for Greater Synergy

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Force protection in the Air Force has taken on greater significance in the new, but well overdue, recognition of its contribution to air and space power. It now has higher priority than ever with senior leadership, extensive research and development efforts are ongoing, and a Force Protection Battlelab has been established--all focused on this one complex mission. Herculean efforts by the entire DoD, particularly since the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers, have resulted in the publishing of literally thousands of pages on program guidance at all DoD levels. Unfortunately, the terms Force Protection and Antiterrorism are now nearly synonymous. This limited program focus does not facilitate a structure designed to ensure a true force protection effort, especially considering the challenges faced by todays Expeditionary Aerospace Force. The purpose of this study is to review existing force protection programs and ongoing initiatives, and then attempt to contribute to further program development from a bottoms up perspective. The bottom in this case is the base level support group commander. The challenges facing support group commanders in todays Air Force are great, perhaps too great. Managing support operations at permanent main operating bases with all its built-in support structure is one thing. Leading deployed support operations, of which force protection is just one aspect, is another. Simply stated, current expectations of the support group commander are unrealistic and doomed to failure. This study reviews current USAF force protection documentation through a literature review and then proposes a systematic approach to program development designed to enhance synergy in force protection operations. It maintains throughout that the key to effective force protection operations is the role played by the combat support commander.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Aircraft Operations
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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