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AEF general discusses issues


Release Date: 11/20/2002

By Capt. Dani Johnson

USAFE News Service

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (USAFENS) - The Air Force vice chief of staff has extended the charter of the office of the special assistant for air and space expeditionary forces. Gen. Robert H. Foglesong's action will keep the office in existence at least until March 2004.

Headed by Maj. Gen. Timothy A. Peppe, the organization works closely with the AEF Center at Langley Air Force Base, Va., to review, clarify and publish AEF guidance.

"(The charter was extended) due in part by the recognition of the Air Staff that this office is having a significant positive influence on AEF issues," said Peppe.

Peppe as the special assistant to the chief of staff for AEF chairs a quarterly steering group comprised of senior officers from each major command, the AEF Center and the Air National Guard.

"The group is a cross-functional team that provides a forum to oversee and synchronize Air Force efforts to implement AEF policies, with the overall objective of assuring success of the AEF concept," said the general. "The group also provides a forum for reviewing and recommending policy, introducing and evaluating new ideas and concepts, and resolving problems that inhibit AEF implementation."

After the steering group meets and determines the important AEF issues, Peppe briefs the "Vice Squad." Gen. Robert H. Foglesong, Air Force vice chief of staff, chairs the team that meets bi-monthly and includes all the major command vice commanders and headquarters Air Staff directors.

"This process (steering group to "Vice Squad") has been very effective in that it provides a venue for Air Force senior leaders at the major command and Air Staff level to be able to discuss and address a wide range of AEF issues on a regular basis," said Peppe.

According to the general, the one thing that airmen can expect is improvements in the AEF concept. "The near term is best defined by the start of AEF Cycle 4 in June 2003.

"At that time, three major changes will occur to enhance the ability of the AEF concept to handle both steady state requirements and surge support for contingency operations," Peppe said. "First, the people and assets from the two on-call wings (Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho) will be aligned throughout the 10 AEFs to provide more equally distributed capabilities.

"Second, the AEF Center is working to rearrange the expeditionary combat support assets Air Force wide to achieve a leveling effect across the 10 AEFs, so the capabilities and personnel numbers are about the same."

The final change, said Peppe, is the distribution of Air Reserve Component assets across the 10 AEFs to provide a more consistent availability since the ANG and Air Force Reserve provide a significant amount of aviation and support assets to the AEF.

Issues currently facing Peppe's organization include not only AEF rotation policies but stressed career field manning. Some specialties are: security forces, office of special investigations, civil engineers, fire fighters, intelligence, transportation, explosive ordnance disposal, combat control, command post, fuels, liquid fuels, communications, air command and warning, air battle managers, pilots and enlisted aircrews.

"Several things are being looked at to help relieve the stressed career fields," the general said. "One is to train more people coming out of basic training into those career fields."

According to Peppe, Air Force personnel officials report there are 17 stressed career fields as they relate to the AEF concept. During fiscal 2002 and into fiscal 2003, several thousand people were redirected into the stressed career fields from basic training. Current Air Force members are being encouraged to retrain into a stressed career field if appropriate.

"These are no immediate answers to the problem of relieving the current situation," the general said. "It will provide relief in the long run."

In addition to redirecting people into stressed career fields, many people who are currently deployed are being extended past the normal three-month AEF rotation.

"This is not the optimal way to do business. Therefore, we've asked the components to validate all manpower requirements," said Peppe. "We've actually reduced security forces requirements by more than 300 authorizations."

The general says there are three main things airmen can do to ensure the success of the AEF concept.

"First, every airman must know which AEF they're in and when they are vulnerable to deploy. Additionally, if applicable, family members should also know when the military member is vulnerable and work as a team to ensure the separation will be as smooth as possible," he said.

Lastly, the general encourages all airmen to know their specific training requirements so they arrive at the deployed location ready to work." (Information courtesy, Air Force Print News)

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