AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE, AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL AFB United States
In response to U.S. Army reorganization and lessons learned from Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan, the Air Force and Army agreed to realign the Air Support Operations Center ASOC with the Army division instead of the corps. Implementation has since stalled because of funding reductions and command-level disagreements. Squadrons directed to realign lack guidance about how this is to be accomplished, often resulting in unit level company grade officers executing as they see fit. These officers are missing a sufficient frame of reference to help them understand how to realign or why it is being directed. Additionally, each Army division has a unique mission that the ASOC must be molded to fit, but the ASOC remains a one-size-fits-all organization based on corps alignment. A frame of reference is needed to make informed decisions at all levels. A cost-benefit analysis is necessary to determine whether realignment is economically viable, even if it remains the best decision for joint interoperability. This research supplies a practical frame of reference through the lens of a coherent and critically analyzed history of the ASOC, focusing on the timeless principles that are required for optimal execution. The principles identified are flexibility, proximity, and communications. Whether the Air Force continues to build a division aligned ASOC, or withdraws it to the corps, these historically-derived principles should be applied to its design.