Integrated Defense: Lessons Learned from Joint Base Balad
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL AIR FORCE RESEARCH INST
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The US Air Force is the worlds preeminent air, space, and cyberspace force. Its mission is to fly, fight, and win, and it does this better than any other air force in the world. Since the inception of airpower, airmen have struggled with the dilemma of how to protect their capability to fly, fight, and win when their aircraft are removed from their natural environment of the air and returned to the ground, where they become vulnerable like any bird of prey. Air Force basic doctrine states, Air and space power is most vulnerable on the ground. Thus, force protection is an integral part of air and space power employment. While the USAF recognizes the threat, base defense- defending one s air assets on the ground- is one of the least understood operational aspects of airpower. The current Air Force strategy for defending air bases is integrated defense ID- formerly known as air base defense or air base ground defense. This study looks at the period between September 2008 and June 2010 when the Air Force took on the base operating support integration BOS-I mission at Joint Base Balad JBB. Operation Desert Safeside saw a scope of operations not seen by a single USAF security forces unit since the Vietnam War. During this period over 900 Air Force security forces personnel were deployed in one unit, charged with the defense of JBB. These men and women focused on ground combat operations outside the wire OTW, while simultaneously synchronizing air and ground forces into the Army s counterinsurgency and stability campaign. This study examines the first full implementation of ID in a combat environment to evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy in actual operations, learn from that experience, and provide considerations for future operations.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics