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AEF is the heart of AF organizational transformation


Release Date: 3/31/2004

by Lt. Col. Timothy Fay 65th Operations Support Squadron commander

3/31/2004 - LAJES FIELD, Azores (AFPN) -- AEF. These three letters represent the heart of the organizational transformation of our Air Force, yet somehow this ever-growing and evolving Air and Space Expeditionary Force construct is misunderstood by many of our Air Force's air and space power warriors.

With another AEF rotation approaching, this is a great time to review the fundamentals of the AEF concept and what it means to us as Air Force warriors. Perhaps the best summary of the AEF concept I have seen is the Air Force's Transformation Flight Plan. You can see for yourself by clicking on the related link in this commentary.

It describes the AEF as a wealth of capabilities. This "bucket" is how the Air Force presents its forces to combatant commanders. Comparing it to a sister service, the Navy has long presented its forces in carrier battle groups. Every commander in every service understood that each carrier battle group could steam so far, so fast and put "X" many weapons on target over "Y" many days. It was a known quantity of capabilities.

We have done the same with the AEF. Each force package is composed of roughly the same capability of air and space power for combatant commanders to call on to help win our nation's wars.

Each AEF is a combination of combat air forces, mobility air forces, expeditionary combat support, and low density/high demand assets. Together, this synergistic basket of capabilities is wrapped into one AEF package.

Right now, our Air Force is divided into 10 AEFs. We pair two of these AEFs together, so in total we have five AEF rotations. This means that if things are steady in the world, each expeditionary Airman must be ready to deploy during his or her regular AEF vulnerability window for 90 days during every 15-month period.

This means all of your readiness ducks must be in a row. This ranges from medical to training readiness, to personal and family readiness issues. Each unit has a readiness officer or NCO who ensures we all remain prepared, but each one of us is ultimately responsible for keeping ourselves as ready as possible at all times.

Of course, when we have a major operation like Iraqi Freedom, the Air Force must do what is needed. The regular rotation schedule may be modified or extended to win the war.

Why do we do things this way? The Air Force chief of staff wants to make our lives better. If we know when our AEF turn is coming and how long it will last, then we can plan our personal and professional lives and prepare to fight.

It adds stability to our lives and predictability to our deployments. The AEF also helps solve our Air Force's problem of how to prepare to fight in a chaotic world. We no longer know from whom or from where in the world the challenges to freedom will come, so we must be ready to go anywhere, anytime, and be ready to fight and win. The AEF rotation gets and keeps us ready.

This, then, is our Air Force's Air and Space Expeditionary Force -- the way we are now organized to fight and win.

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