Chapter 4 - Airlift Coordination
According to JCS Publication 4-021, the ALCC prepares the airlift mission schedule based on airlift requirements validated and prioritized by the joint transportation board. The ALCC publishes the schedule during the same cycle as the TACC air tasking order (ATO) and transmits it to the same agencies.
The ALCC airlift operations division prepares the airlift ATO, working through the airlift duty officer (ALDO). The division:
- Coordinates specific airlift missions with the TACC airspace management section.
- Deconflicts airlift operations with other planned air operations.
- Limits the potential for fratricide from friendly fires.
- Coordinates C3CM support.
Major airlift operations need dedicated support of the other air operations elements. To properly sequence air activity and supporting surface fires, operations planners work directly with appropriate TACC combat plans mission schedulers, the BCE or functional equivalent, and coordinating liaison elements. Forces and agencies executing the operations must review both the TACC ATO and the airlift annex to understand the sequenced packaging of the C3CM support. The ATO must include the specifics of the mission.
Time permitting, tactical airlift liaison officers (TALOs) provide advance notification of immediate airlift requests, including tactical emergencies, to the ALCC. This notification includes known C3CM requirements. TALOs use a radio net separate from the air request net. Advance notification permits the ALCC to begin the planning and coordinating process, but the component requesting airlift support still must validate and prioritize the request.
In tactical emergencies, the BCE or functional equivalent may work validation in reverse. The ALCC senior duty controller identifies airlift resources and formulates a mission concept. The combat operations division within the ALCC actually plans and coordinates immediate airlift operations and develops C3CM support packages. It does this along with the BCE or functional equivalent and coordinating liaison element. The ALCC then returns the complete airlift mission schedule to the senior duty controller. At the same time, the TACC combat operations and component fire support elements direct C3CM support missions.
The theater airlift management structure in a unified command must interface with the key elements of the Tactical Air Control System-Army Air Ground System (TACS-AAGS). FM 100-27/AFM 2-502 discusses the airlift system in detail.
Following are key points that C3CM mission planners need to know about theater airlift:
- Airlift is available to all components. Components must request airlift through channels by using JFC-prescribed joint airlift request procedures.3
- The ALCC, normally collocated with the TACC, maybe geographically separated if the theater is complex or circumstances warrant. Secure, dedicated connectivity to the TACC is essential if the two are separated.
The component requesting airlift normally identifies C3CM requirements at the lowest echelon possible. Airlift assets supporting a C3CM mission must be given a priority based on the mission's urgency. To request airlift, the component must forward the C3CM request through component channels to ensure coordination with planners. Military Airlift Command liaison officers and TALOs will normally assist component planners in coordinating airlift support.
If C3CM support is required after the ALCC planning process begins, the ALCC requests C3CM support from the TACC. C3CM support for airlift missions is unlikely unless the supported Army unit submits the request simultaneously to the TACC from the ALCC and through the supported Army unit's air request channels. This type of preplanned request normally requires a 96-hour lead time. Immediate requests (those with less than 96-hour notice) are normally supported only by diverting a planned C3CM mission that the supported Army unit previously requested.
Some theater-level operations, for example, airborne assault, deep operations, and special operations, will require C3CM support. All components and agencies involved in the operation must coordinate their efforts.
MAC forces may operate under the control of C2 elements other than the ALCC such as a combat search and rescue (CSAR) provisional group or an Air Force special operations command (AFSOC).
The CSAR provisional group is a C2 agency through which the commander of combat rescue forces (COMCRF) exercises operational control (OPCON) of dedicated CSAR forces. Normally, a CSAR provisional group is composed of theater and augmenting rescue staff personnel. The COMCRF coordinates theater CSAR operations through a rescue coordination center (RCC). The RCC plans, coordinates, executes, and controls the recovery of downed aircrew members and others in distress in combat or contingency operations. The RCC is manned by respective component-only personnel.
The RCC maybe collocated with and thus help form a JRCC-a jointly manned organization consisting of two or more components. The JRCC does not have OPCON of any flying assets. Depending on the situation, the JRCC must request aviation support through the JFACC. The JRCC only exercises mission control of the assets by prosecuting the mission. A search and rescue liaison officer provided to the TACC coordinates C3CM requirements, as well as other support and airspace deconfliction.
An AFSOC is a provisional organization formed from special operations forces that are assigned or OPCON to the JFC. It is formed at the special operations commander's direction, usually in conjunction with a theater special operations commander. The AFSOC provides support to the commander of Air Force special operations forces (AFSOF) in the areas of administration, mission planning, logistics, training, and intelligence for committed Air Force elements.
The AFSOC is the focal point for communications and control of employed forces and provides connectivity with the operations task force or components for the JFC. One AFSOC element physically located in the TACC deconflicts operations of committed AFSOF with those of the TACC. Where the Air Force component commander (AFCC) and TACC are not collocated, the AFSOC will provide a coordinating cell to augment the AFCC staff.
1 Doctrine for Airlift Support to Joint Conventional Operations (to be developed).
2 US Army / US Air Force Doctrine for Joint Airborne and Tactical Airlift Operations, 1 March 1985.
3 Airlift requests are not processed through the air support operations center (ASOC) or TACC air request net except in some tactical emergencies where access to normal communication channels is denied. A JFC-designated agent or JTB validates and prioritizes all requests and forwards them to the commander of airlift forces for the theater ALCC's mission planning, coordination, and scheduling,
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