C-17A Special Operations Low Level II (SOLL II) Supporting the Combatant Commander
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING AND MANAGEMENT
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Shortly after the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and the start of the United States Global War on Terrorism, a dramatic change in the use of airlift forces was realized. The traditional use of strategic and tactical airlift forces was intermingled and the full capabilities of the newest USAF airlifter, the C-17A Globemaster III were put to the test. An elite unit deep within AMCs airlift forces, the SOLL II C-17As at Charleston AFB, provided outstanding results to combatant commanders. This paper did a comparative analysis of three recent military operations relying heavily on airlift to answer the overriding research question How well, and in what situations, has AMC satisfied the airlift requirement of High Priority, External Users during the USGWOT Starting with the history of the C-17As role in operations Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, this paper described the transformation in airlift and the growing demand for its use in succeeding operations. Each operation was analyzed with respect to how the C-17A forces were employed as tactical assets but remained under strategic control of AMC. The literature review delineated the nuances of operational control of forces during peacetime or contingency operations and showed that AMC was executing authority within the latitude granted by doctrine. The analysis did reveal however that missed opportunities and possible greater success by combatant commanders may have been achieved if control of forces, even time limited tactical control were released to the Joint Force Commander during contingency operations.
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