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Crossing the Streams: Integrating Stovepipes with Command and Control

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Journal article

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As any Air Force weapons officer, participant in a Red Flag exercise, or graduate of Squadron Officer School SOS knows, Airmen integrate airpower capabilities to achieve desired effects--but integration is hard to find over Afghanistan. None of our air platforms excel at every mission the capabilities of each cover the weaknesses of others. Removing a capability exposes a vulnerability that adversaries can exploit. If a capability is present but the command and control C2 system has not fully integrated it, then the same vulnerability is exposed. Current airpower planning and execution processes reveal significant integration gaps. To fix these problems, Airmen must reexamine the people, processes, and products of the air and space operations center AOC. In the future, the AOC should perform all planning in a single division, publish the plan in a single document, and package capabilities under mission commanders empowered to respond to changing circumstances. The capabilities of Air Force platforms currently flying over Afghanistan are poorly integrated. That is not to say they are ineffective rather, the volume of assets compensates for failures to integrate. A C-130 might air-drop supplies to a drop zone plagued by small-arms antiaircraft fire. The drop might occur immediately beneath an MQ-1 Predator orbit, but the Predator crew would not know that the airdrop is planned, much less scan for threats to the C-130 unless the supported unit happens to task it to do so. Simultaneously, one regional command over, an F-16 provides armed reconnaissance along a route that friendly forces will patrol the following day, oblivious to the fact that an MC-12 in an overlapping orbit has found and fixed a highvalue target, hoping that a strike asset arrives in the area before collateral concerns preclude an attack. An HH-60 takes fire during a casualty evacuation mission, not knowing that a Sandy-qualified A-10 is in the next kill box. These are fundamental breakdowns.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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