Global Strike Task Force
To prepare for potential 21st-century challenges to worldwide access -- like ballistic-missile strikes against air bases and troops -- in early 2001 Gen. John Jumper, commander, Headquarters Air Combat Command, unveiled an innovative new concept: Global Strike Task Force. It's the Air Force's contribution to the nation's kick-down-the-door force for the new century. A Global Strike Task Force will open the way for everyone else, no matter what an enemy can throw against U.S. forces. It will dominate the air, the first requirement for modern warfare, and take out enemy assets that threaten a U.S. deployment.
GSTF will be a rapid-reaction force employed within the Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) construct and timeline while maintaining interoperability with joint, coalition, and allied assets. It will initially leverage the mass and standoff of our bomber fleet and ISR platforms, protected by the F-22, to strike targets inhibiting our ability to gain access. The concept is built on new technologies and new ideas about using military force. First is stealth capability, says Jumper, who is currently the commander of Air Combat Command but who has been confirmed as the next chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force.
The task force leads with F-22 stealth fighters to clear a path, taking out enemy aircraft and advanced anti-aircraft missile launchers. B-2 stealth bombers follow to destroy assets that threaten U.S. deployments: Scud missile launchers, chemical-weapon bunkers, air and shore defenses, for example. Sea- and air-launched cruise missiles help that effort.
The F-22 Raptor, now in development, combines stealth and advanced avionics for a "first-look, first-shot, first-kill" capability needed to beat the advanced fighters and surface-to-air missiles now being sold around the world. The Raptor will bring stealth capability "into the daylight" for the first time - not only will it fly missions 24 hours a day, but it will let the F-117 stealth fighter and the B-2 fight around the clock as well. New mission requirements in Fiscal Year 2003 include supporting the Air Force's Global Strike Task Force by building B-2 aircraft hangars at Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, and B-2 aircraft parking pads at Diego Garcia.
The shock effect of this B-2/F-22 "one-two" punch will be unprecedented. In the first 24 hours of Desert Storm, after six months of buildup, the US launched 1,223 strike sorties, hitting 203 targets. Stealth assets accounted for 40 sorties and 61 targets. With GSTF, four B-2s and 48 F-22s carrying miniature munitions can strike 380 targets in only 52 sorties.
The task force needs to know where the threats and targets are. That means bringing together all of the reconnaissance and command functions now carried out by platforms like AWACS, Joint STARS, the U-2 and the Predator plus special-operations forces behind enemy lines.
They'll be combined either into a single aircraft or a "constellation" of manned systems, unmanned systems, satellites, people on the ground -- whatever. The specific platform doesn't matter, Jumper explains. What's important is bringing together the mass of data flowing into the system and automatically turning it into "decision-quality" information for commanders.
For instance, suppose U.S. forces spot a Scud missile launch. Today, warfighters go to different data sources to find out where the launcher is, what weapon is available to take it out, where the missile will hit. "In fact, the machines already know the answers to all these things," Jumper says. "If the machines could just talk to each other, we'd know the answers to all those questions instantly."
Knowing everything you need to know about the enemy's situation and your own leads to "predictive battlespace awareness," another element of the Global Strike Task Force. It's "a microscopic, all-encompassing understanding of the battle space in all four dimensions, the ability to anticipate the right move rather than simply react to enemy moves. It's the art of prediction," Jumper says. It's studying intelligence information starting at "D-Day minus 365 days" -- knowing all the time what's needed to fight a war or put down a crisis, not just putting a force together when a crisis erupts.
Global Strike Task Force, as defined by Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. Jumper, marks the next stage in Air Force transformation by leveraging the U.S. asymmetric advantages of stealth, precision and standoff capabilities, information, and space to overcome the enemy's ability to deny access to U.S. forces. A rapid reaction force employed within the air expeditionary force construct, Global Strike Task Force combines stealth and advanced weapons with a horizontally integrated command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance constellation that provides lethal joint battlespace capability. It will rapidly establish air dominance and subsequently guarantee that joint aerospace, land and sea forces will enjoy both freedom from attack and freedom to attack.
One of the enablers to Global Strike Task Force is the ability to achieve predictive battlespace awareness, which provides decision-makers the ability to predict what actions the enemy is most likely to make. This predictive analysis helps decision makers adjust to the ever-changing battlespace situation. With predictive battlespace awareness, the commander can better focus intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, use them to confirm anticipated enemy locations, and quickly provide decision-quality information to the targeting process. Initiatives will support exploration of predictive battlespace awareness, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies and processes, and decreasing the response time to prosecute time-sensitive targets.
Putting all these capabilities together in the Global Strike Task Force may save time and lives, Jumper says. Precision strikes against an enemy's crucial war-fighting assets in the opening days of a conflict "give him an excuse to quit."
If the enemy doesn't take that opportunity, kicking down the door opens the way for the rest of America's warfighting team. Ground and naval forces will provide their crucial abilities; airpower will dominate the battlefield as long as the conflict lasts.
Key to the follow-on forces will be the Joint Strike Fighter, expected to join U.S. forces in 2011. Plans call for enough of the fighters to provide "persistent stealth" over the battlefield, Jumper says. That means stealth capabilities will be available every minute of the conflict, the first time that will be possible.
Most of the technology to make the Global Strike Task Force a reality exists or is in development now. The road ahead includes determining what advanced weapon systems are needed. The Air Force will also work to educate its airmen, members of the other services, and American allies to make sure the concept is integrated into future operations.
In the end, Global Strike Task Force is a leading edge, joint power-projection concept that fits into the air expeditionary force construct, and provides the capability to respond rapidly with massive, around-the-clock firepower. Global Strike Task Force will mass effects early, from longer ranges, with more precision than our current capabilities and methods of employment thereby creating air dominance (and war-winning effects) for component commanders and possibly giving our adversaries a reason to quit.
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