Released: Mar. 5, 2003
AEF rhythm affected by current operations
By Gen. Hal M. Hornburg
Commander, Air Combat Command
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (ACCNS) -- In the last several weeks, ACC people have been called upon to deploy in support of national security objectives in Southwest Asia and other locations. The number of people and resources needed to fulfill these new requirements has demanded flexibility in the way we deploy our forces.
Since 1999, the Air and Space Expeditionary Force structure has provided predictability and stability to our people and their families. The AEF embodies one of the key tenets of airpower - flexibility. The AEF is a force presentation tool designed to ensure fully trained and combat-capable airpower forces are available to combatant commanders anywhere, anytime. It allows the Air Force to respond to the full spectrum of military operations, from humanitarian operations and exercises to large-scale conflicts.
Using this structure, the Air Force is able to respond to any situation our political and military leaders deem appropriate in order to achieve our national security objectives. Every airman plays an important role and is critical to the success of the AEF.
The AEF functions in many environments from steady state to crisis. Our AEF structure contains 10 sets of capabilities divided into five pairs, and follows a 15-month rhythm to allow our people to better plan for deployment. Each AEF pair normally deploys for three months, followed by a 10-month training period focused on individual skills, exercises, and inspections to ensure combat readiness, and a two-month focus on forward-deployment preparation.
The 10-month period gives our people time to reconnect with their families, pursue personal and professional requirements and goals, and train for their next deployment cycle. Steady-state requirements have historically been fulfilled by two AEFs deployed for a three-month rotation. Crisis operations, which require resources beyond those available in two AEFs, are met by systematically deploying the next most ready AEF forces.
The ongoing global war on terrorism requires the AEF to operate in the "crisis" environment. Current world events are requiring more people and resources than a single AEF pair can support. These requirements will likely result in our people being gone longer than 90 days, forcing us to interrupt our normal AEF rhythm.
I know this is difficult for our airmen and their families, but I know our people are ready to do whatever our nation asks us to do. The combined efforts of the entire Air Force team - active duty, Reserve, Guard, and civilians - are needed to meet the current challenges we are facing. Our Air Force leadership has promised to make every effort to relieve those deployed as mission requirements allow.
Despite the increased demands on our people, I know our airmen are up to the task. We are the best-trained and equipped Air Force the world has ever seen. Our airmen will make our nation proud. I salute the men and women of ACC for their dedicated service to our country and their families for their unwavering support. I am proud to serve with you.
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