Task Force Concepts of Operations (CONOPS)
The Air Force is changing the way it buys new weapons and weapons systems. Service officials will no longer focus on who an adversary may be or where a war may occur, but instead on how to achieve desired effects against a range of enemies on a variety of battlefields.
Throughout the Cold War, the Air Force primarily focused its attention on purchasing weapons systems to counter the military capabilities and threats posed by a known enemy -- the Soviet Union. It worked -- the Soviet Union collapsed.
However, the military advantage the Air Force currently enjoys is in danger of eroding unless the service continues to transform itself to stay one step ahead of any potential adversary, wrote Secretary of the Air Force Dr. James G. Roche in the 2003 Air Force Posture Statement.
To accomplish this, Air Force warfighters are working hard to lay the foundation for the next step in an ongoing transformation to a capabilities-focused expeditionary air and space force, according to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper. "Our goal is to make warfighting effects and the capabilities we need to achieve them, the driving factor for everything we do," the general said in the 2002 Air Force Posture Statement. "This enables (us to develop the capabilities needed) to answer a broad range of challenges posed by potential adversaries, while also developing the (assets needed) for the future."
To achieve this goal, the Air Force will employ an entirely different way of procuring weapons, said Col. Mike Holmes, chief of the air force strategy, concepts and doctrine division at the Pentagon. "In the past, we sometimes started with a new (weapons) system that we could buy and then we tried to figure out what to do with it," Holmes said. "What the chief of staff has asked us to do now is identify the effect we want to achieve on the battlefield and the capabilities required to achieve that effect. "This requires us to determine what options are available to us -- do we already have something in the inventory that can achieve this desired effect, or do we need to look for a new solution?" he said. "This new solution may require purchasing a new weapons system, or it might be just finding a new way of doing business." It will require the Air Force to start with a problem and then determine what can be done to overcome that problem in order to accomplish the desired mission, he added.
Jumper approved the development of seven concepts of operations, or CONOPS, to help analyze the full range of problems the service may be asked to solve for joint force commanders. Each CONOPS identifies the capabilities an Air Force Task Force will need to accomplish its mission.
The people charged with developing these task force CONOPS will not be the Air Staff at the Pentagon, but instead the people at the closest level to the warfighters -- the major commands. They will be tasked with thinking of "outside the box" solutions to problems that may be encountered on the battlefields of tomorrow.
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