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Warfighting Headquarters [WF HQ]

The Air Force doesn't have fighting forces associated with headquarters, and hasn't for a long time. So 9th Air Force Headquarters doesn't move its headquarters with fighting forces. The fighting forces are all down at the squadron level. Forces are sized by UTCs that can go in very small groups if that's what it requires. But they start with very small building blocks. And the Air Force doesn't have any combat forces associated with headquarters. For instance, the numbered air force headquarters is the warfighting headquarters. That's the joint force air component commander, which doesn't fight the numbered air force as a numbered air force.

Air Force officials have integrated lessons learned from past conflicts to develop and implement a new concept for command and control of the service's fighting forces. The result is the establishment of regionally or functionally aligned Air Force warfighting headquarters worldwide designed to facilitate the execution and planning of air and space power more efficiently.

The warfighting headquarters will be an organization above the wing level and will consist of the following components:

  • A command section
  • An air and space operations center
  • Staff to interface with Air Force major commands, the Air Staff, other services and the combatant commander's staff

Each headquarters will have a standardized architecture; the office symbols, set-up and tasks associated will be the same. This standardization allows a better flow of information and mutual support among the headquarters.

The new headquarters will supplant some current numbered air forces, however, for the majority of Airmen at a wing this should be a seamless change. By early 2005 several of the major commands were very close to standing up the headquarters. The majority of new warfighting headquarters are expected to be implemented by 01 October 2005.

A warfighting headquarters will provide an infrastructure so Air Force commanders can better command and control the air, space and information forces assigned or attached to the unified combatant commanders in each theater. The idea is to develop a standard architecture to best support Air Force forces - an air (and space) expeditionary force - in support of a joint operation.

The Warfighting Headquarters develop full spectrum, joint warfighting structures linked through a collaborative planning network. The Air Force provided its MCO future joint warfighting perspective in JFCOM 's Pinnacle Impact '03 discovery experiment. The Air Force concept, Decisive Coercive Operations, goes beyond the current Air Force CONOPS to the 2018 timeframe and integrates joint capabilities as defined in the JOpsC. The concept rests firmly on coercion theory and attempts to prevent conflict by using decision superiority, assured access, persistent dominance, and the Warfighting Headquarters to favorably influence regional, state, and non-state actors. If conflict erupts, the concept uses mechanisms to quickly engage and bring order before events spin totally out of control. Unlike many other Service concepts, Decisive Coercive Operations is a joint approach that incorporates not only military force, but also all instruments of power to influence and bring compliance.

While the Air Force has undergone a significant transformation from a "main operating base" mindset to an expeditionary Air Force, its organizational structure has changed very little. The main effort to reverse this course is captured in the Air Force White Paper and Briefing entitled the Transformational Warfighting Construct. This proposal would re-engineer the Air Force's command structure to address current and future strategic objectives within anticipated fiscal restraints.

The construct envisioned the development of full spectrum, joint warfighting structures linked through a collaborative planning network. During the evolution of this construct, the Air Force will be able to proactively integrate with the proposed Standing Joint Force Headquarters while evolving to a fully joint air and space headquarters.

The construct establishes ten warfighting organizations. Seven of these are regionally focused and three are globally focused. Each WF HQ has an A-staff and an Air Operations Center (AOC). The WF HQs are sized to effectively execute their mission. The headquarters vary in size, depending on factors such as geographic location, responsibilities, and missions assigned.

These WF HQs are led by a three or four-star general and are the airman's single voice to the Unified Combatant Commander (UCC). This reorganization is designed to enhance combat capability, integrate combat staffs with AOCs, and provide the UCC an air and space focused-warfighting structure supported by state-of-the-art warfighting command and control.

Each WF HQ is focused on its warfighting mission -- providing the air, space, information, and computer expertise to execute the National Military Strategy through the combatant commander's plans.

The AOCs included in this construct are not the same. Some are "Falconer" mobile AOCs. Some are mobile but not along the Falconer design. Others like AFTRANS and AFSOF are functionally built for their specialty. All WF HQs are integrated into a robust communications network that will facilitate collaborative planning and the rapid transfer of AOC functions between headquarters in the event an AOC is taken down or during the initial movement/stand-up of a mobile AOC. A deployable "monster" AOC will be strategically located in CONUS to respond to loss or disruption to regional AOCs.

The USAF is implementing a new AFFOR C2 Enabling concept that implements a new organizational construct for operational level of war headquarters. This organizational change is one of the most significant and transformational organizational changes in its history, and as such lends itself to significant misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Successful implementation of the AFFOR C2 Enabling Concept, in part, relies on a multi-level, multi-dimensional education and training program.

The WFHQ implementation affects Air Force personnel at all levels of responsibility and authority. Education and training requirements extend across a broad spectrum of need. General education of the entire Air Force population is required, for a broad-based professional military education, with a specific focus on the requirements for successful execution at operational level of war. Focused professional military education for Operational level commanders and their key staff is needed, along with focused training for all WFHQ personnel at all weapons system and staff positions. The Air Force must explore alternative, innovative ways to educate and train both specific and broad-based populations to ensure successful concept implementation.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:16:56 ZULU