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The JFACC Supporting Function
AUTHOR Major Gordon B. Habbestad, USMC
CSC 1993
Thesis: The Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC)
inappropriately retains predominant decision-making
authority in the joint target selection process which
rightly belongs to the Ground Component Commander(GCC).
Yet, the solutions to the problems between the services
remain focused on cosmetics such as fair staff
representation and internal procedures
           I.  The JFACC Concept
               A.   Success in War
               B    Shortcomings
               C.   Sea, Air, Ground Supremacy
          II.  Service Differences
               A    Strategic Targeting, Battlefied Shaping
               B.   Organizational Solution
               C.   deference to the Ground Component
         III.  Supporting and Supported Agencies
               A.   CINC's Objectives
               B.   JFACC Authority and Responsibility
               C.   One Person in Charge
         IV.   The Commander's Needs
               A.   Competing Requirements
               B.   Honest Broker
          V.   The Solution to Differences
               A    The CINC's Targeting Duty
               B    The JFACC's Supporting Role
               C.   Today's Yardstick
          VI.  Service Duties
               A.   Land Forces
               B.   Air Forces
         VII.  Service Differences
               A.   Perspective
               B.   An Outside View
               C.   Service Air Arms
              The JFACC Supporting Function
     As the services seek consensus on the function of the
Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) and work towards
joint doctrine, we can challenge assumptions about the
JFACC's authority and offer solutions to joint force
targeting priorities which more effectively solve the
difficulties surrounding supporting and supported forces.
Current proposals offer cosmetic solutions to joint air
integration and focus on internal efficiency and
representation while neglecting the more basic problem.  The
single major problem about the JFACC concept for joint force
air integration has not been properly identified.
Meanwhile, solutions remain embroiled in controversy and
JFACC issues wear the emblem of an intractable problem
inherent in service organization.
     The JFACC inappropriately retains predominant
decision-making authority in the joint target-selection
process that rightly belongs to the Ground Component
Commander(GCC).  Most of the joint integration issues being
addressed by the services are unrelated to the power of the
JFACC, but focus on cosmetics like commander or coordinater,
sufficient service representation, and Joint Targeting
Coordination Board (JTCB) procedures.  In reality  a
supporting commanders the JFACC, is making decisions on
targeting which belong to the supported commanders the
ground component.
     The JFACC concept remains the most effective use of
U.S. air power during conflict.  Operation Desert Storm is a
superb example.  Two years after the war with Iraq  authors
are still struggling to codify how the terrific successes of
air supremacy were either successful, or unsuccessful , in
influencing the outcome of the war.  Further, they struggle
with how the superior technological advantage of the United
States, when converted to aircraft delivery of military
power against an enemy, might influence the future conduct
of war.  True, these are important searches in the
continuous effort to understand what happened so we might
more effectively fight in the future.  At the same time, we
can also be led to a misunderstanding that a revolution in
warfare is underway.
     It is sufficient to make a simple, yet defining,
observation to keep us on our feet as we take a closer look
at some important, and not so important, aspects of joint
air power.  The use of United States armed forces to
implement political objectives is rightly focused on
influencing, by force or intimidation, the political heads
of state of opposing nations, which can be defined by a land
mass encircled by a political boundary.  The operative word
is land mass.  We do not fight for control or influence over
the surrounding seas or the airspace above the earth's land
masses for two major reasons.
     First, the U.S. retains world sea supremacy and can, in
all  liklihood, achieve air supremacy over any land mass and
political boundary at issue.  Second, and more importantly
conflicts are defined by control of the earth's land masses
described by political boundaries, commonly termed
"nations".  This is an important backdrop to developing the
proposition that joint warfare joins supporting and
supported forces together, much as the National Command
Authority joins supported and supporting CINC's in pursuing
national objectives.(14:3)   In considering the use of force
to achieve political objectives, the U.S. can postulate
control of the sea and air.   There remains only control of
the ground to achieve strategic objectives.  Yet it is the
very control of the ground which brings forth the nature of
the conflict in the first place.
     So, both by the nature of U.S.  sea and air capability.
and by the requisite control of the ground as the single
remaining task, we find sea forces and air forces acting to
achieve an end to conflict by helping ground forces achieve
control on the ground.  Air and sea forces support ground
forces.  Despite the many postulates regarding levels and
generations of warfare, and the various foci of effort in
the prosecution of the CINC's campaign plan, there remains
this one long-standing principle which has held fast
throughout history.   In addressing the focus of the
targeting issues surrounding the JFACC, we must remember the
ultimate requirement for land force victory.
     The service differences towards aircraft employment and
how best to serve the CINC--through strategic targeting or
battlefield shaping, each in an effort to prepare for a
ground offensive--is not a black and white issue, nor is it
easily addressed by prescriptive methods inflexible to the
situation facing the commander.  Using the Desert Storm
example, strategic targeting will give way to a focus on
battlefield shaping as the date for commencement of the
ground offensive approaches.  How soon and in what
proportion targeting priorities would transition from
strategic focus to battlefield shaping caused great concern
for the ground commanders of Desert Storm facing Iraqi
forces. (4:2)   Ground force commanders sought to maximize the
destruction of the offensive capability of the enemy
preparatory to an offensive.  The JFACC targeting tendancy
was to also continue strategic targeting in addition, each
mission detracting from battlefield-shaping missions.(3:3)
     The current solution to balancing the differences
between targeting priorities is through the correct
application of basic organizational principles, namely,
creating a balanced JFACC staff proportionately represented
by all services(16:4).  Yet, someone, from some service,
remains in charge--the JFACC.  Thousands of man-hours have
been expended by the services in an effort to organize
fairness into the JFACC organization.  The results to date
include a pending decision on whether the JFACC is a
coordinator or commander, pending doctrine on how to handle
airspace beyond the Fire Support Coordination Line (FSCL) in
a mobile battle within the Marine's AOR, lack of Air Tasking
Order (ATO) responsiveness, and a host of other issues.
Even Fleet Marine Force Atlantic (FMFLant) and Fleet Marine
Force Pacific (FMFPac) don't agree on basic organizational
     Complex military organizations are structured around a
simple idea--determining the strength, location, capability,
and intentions of the enemy force, and fielding forces to
attack his weaknesses in order to defeat him in the field.
The monumental human effort is not so much an issue of
victory, as it is victory at minimal cost in blood.  The
technological advantage of the United States was critical to
maintaining air and sea supremacy in Desert Storm.  The
sophisticated and technologically advanced human containers
called ships and aircraft were used to conduct missions with
a relatively small threat to their safety.  However, the
land-based counterpart in Bradley's and M1A1 tanks contained
only a small percentage of the force, leaving the
preponderance of the ground forces vulnerable to enemy
offensive action.  The great advantages of aircraft speed or
ship distances in avoiding enemy fire are not enjoyed by
ground forces preparing for an offensive.
     It is sufficient to observe that duty in war carries
risk, but risk is not evenly distributed.  Military and
civilian personnel who serve during conflict are due the
greatest respect for carrying their duty despite the risks
involved.   Yet we all know the frontline ground forces face
the greatest risks to life and limb.  Who should determine
the priority effort for destruction of the enemy but the
very commanders who must lead ground forces into enemy-held
     The ground forces stand to gain the most in resolving
the complex problem of properly balancing strategic
targeting and battlefield shaping.  Without fixed-wing
assets, the Army is completely dependent upon the JFACC for
long-range air interdiction and long-range armed
reconnaissance.   In conflicts such as Desert Strorm, where a
massive air assault precedes the ground offensive, having a
greater influence in target selection will better place the
Army in control of its destiny.  Harold Winton, Professor of
military history at the School of Advanced Airpower Studies
at Maxwell AFB, wrote about the Air Force's new AFM 1-1, and
compared the manual with emerging Army concepts.  Airmen and
soldiers have significantly different perspectives on how to
conduct war.  While air doctrine emphasizes the flexibility
of aircraft power, land doctrine assumes the eventual need
to assume some degree of control over the ground and views
air power as a useful supporting force to achieve that
aim.(17:29)    Mr. Winton addresses important differences of
how the services might approach warfare.  The differences
discussed should be considered when approaching the critical
issue of what to destroy or neutralize in the effort to
achieve the CINC's objectives.
     Current methods for target prioritization improperly
grant deference to units flying aircraft--to the detriment
of ground combat units.  Despite the tecnological progress
of modern warfare, there remains the inviolate principle of
supported units and supporting units.  Units flying aircraft
are supporting units.  Units executing offensive or
defensive ground operations are supported units.  The
Goldwater/Nichols Act of 1986 developed responsibilities
incumbent upon supporting and supported CINC's and provided
for the commanders of supported commands to call the
shots.(7:2-21)   This decision-making power should apply
internally to the CINC's command, moderated solely by his
capability to provide it.
     The CINC as theatre commander seeks to integrate the
full military capabilities of forces assigned.   In an effort
to efficiently utilize his aircraft in-theatre, the CINC
centralizes control of air assets as the most effective way
to achieve this end.  For aircraft, it is the JFACC's duty
to execute this integration.
     When services come together under a combatant commander
to fight a war as a joint force, one of the CINC's important
decisions is the selection of the JFACC.  The measure of
authority the CINC accords the JFACC and how the JFACC
fulfills his responsibilities impacts high-level commanders
throughout the theatre
     In joint warfare today, individual services retain some
aircraft sorties to execute missions in accordance with
their warfighting doctrine.  The percentage of aircraft
sorties apportioned from each service for joint missions is
determined by the CINC.  The JFACC then allocates the
apportioned forces to specific missions.  The 1986 Omnibus
Agreement, combined with current joint and service doctrine,
provides the authority for a portion of Marine aircraft
sorties to be flown in support of the joint force as
allocated by the JFACC.(6:1)
     The JFACC's primary purpose, according to the air force
JFACC Primer, is to create "unity of effort for employing
air power for the benefit of the joint force as a whole."
JFACC responsibilities include planning, coordinating,
allocating, and tasking aircraft for long-range
reconnaisance, interdiction, and defensive counter-air
missions outside the ground component commanders' areas of
responsibility.  He retains tactical control  (TACON) of
these assets while the respective service retains
operational control (OPCON).(1:11)
     Reorganization is one solution to address problems
within an organization.  Another is to agree with a
proposition formulated by authors Thomas Peters and Roger
Waltherman, who postulate organization structure isn't
important.(11:232).  Despite the organizational  language
which proposes targeting equivalance found in most military
concept papers, there remains, as an irrefutable bottom
line, one general, from one service, who will be "head
person in charge".  That general should come from a ground
component.  There is too much organizational distance when
establishing the power broker in targeting decisions in the
hands of the JFACC.
     On the whole, service agreements appear to have met the
basic needs of a warfighting CINC executing the air portion
of his campaign plan without compromising service
warfighting philosophies.  The reality is that competing
service component target requirements exceed the capacity of
available air-to-ground missions.  According to Colonel
Williams, USA J-3 air target representative during Desert
Storm, an honest broker is required to ensure sufficient
weight of effort is applied to support the CINC's
guidance.(12:70)   This is supported by Lt Colonel Dade, a
Marine Corps targeting representative during Operation
Desert Storm, who wrote, "No other component completely
trusted Air Force Central Command's (CentAF) ability to take
off their JFACC hat during the targeting board, and then put
it back on to make objective decisions when there was a
nomination conflict with a CentAF target."(5:35)
     The Desert Storm honest broker was the Air Force
component commander, assigned to dual-hat as the JFACC.
Dual-hatting a component commander and the JFACC position
doesn't work and caused problems with targeting contentious
enough to breed disunity.  Yet, a U.S. CENTCOM position
paper written two years after Desert Storm backs up the
original  intention to conduct the Joint Targeting
Coordination Board with the JFACC as chair, with the full
intention to continue the arrangement during future
     The correct solution is to remove targeting privileges
from the JFACC.  Targeting is a warfighting duty and belongs
squarely on the CINC's shoulders.   If the CINC foregoes this
responsibility, then it rightly reverts to the GCC.  When
men and material are organized and deployed for battle, the
only thing left to do is to decide when and what to shoot,
with what weapon.  Repeatedly creating the ideal
circumstances to kill the enemy and destroy his material
while preserving the force is the essence of warfare.  This
rather simple reduction of armed conflict is not intended to
trivialize the immense complexities and problems to be
solved while prosecuting wars, let alone address concepts
such as commander's intent and end state.   Yet, the CINC
remains rightfully accountable for it all.  Modern
organization allows for delegation of authority and division
of labor.  To delegate the tasks of choosing where, when,
and how to strike the enemy by delegating targeting, while
becoming actively involved in logistics, for example, a
supporting function, is to ask for problems encountered
during Desert Storm.  Major Motz, an EA-6B pilot, wrote in
his JFACC study that JFACC targeting during Desert Storm had
a decided strategic focus and it was only when Deputy
CentCom got involved did the focus change to shaping of the
     With targeting duties removed, the JFACC will be busy
enough fulfilling the CINC's orders.  The great efforts by
the services to organize a joint JFACC agency can be put to
good use.  Finally, the desire of a component commander to
dual-hat as a JFACC might fade away when he realizes that
the JFACC, as commander or coordinator, will be following
orders rather than giving them.
     Desert Storm clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of a
joint air effort in support of a CINC's campaign plan.
Nevertheless, the JFACC concept executed during Desert Storm
remains flawed and breeds contempt for the target selection
process, yet remains today's yardstick for success or
failure for U.S. joint air integration. Lt Col Joseph
Collins, Associate Professor at the U.S. Military Academy,
describes it well by saying that for better or for worse,
Desert Storm is "burned into our collective consciousness"
and will be a "benchmark for future US defense policy and
military art."(2:83)
     At the same time, a closer look at aspects of Desert
Storm, specifically targeting, is most instructive by its
deficiencies, not its successes.  While clearly
demonstrating the effectiveness of a joint air effort in
support of a CINC's campaign plan, the JFACC concept failed
to gain the confidence of the ground commanders.  Attempts
to organize away this critical deficiency indicate a
service-wide inability to recognize the more basic
problem--that targeting decision-making belongs rightfully
in the supported commander's hands.
     The United States has no competition for sea or air
supremacy in the world today.  Nevertheless, what good does
that do this country when we face difficult issues such as
Bosnia-Hertzegovina?  The United States reluctance to pursue
an aggressive posture in Bosnia, such as we observed after
Iraq invaded Kuwait, is principally based on the great
difficulty in gaining a significant victory by ground
forces.  We can conclude that despite the ease or hardship
faced in achieving control of the ground bounded by the
political entity at stake, when military forces are
involved, victory by ground forces remains a necessary
precursor to achieving the end-state and political
objectives despite the capability to control the sea or the
     Since ground victory brings conflict resolution, a
reasonable strategy during conflict is to employ the joint
force to ensure victory by land-based surface forces.
Somewhat circuitously, we've returned to the crux of the
targeting issue.   In the effort to gain military victory,
should final targeting decisions be made by the JFACC?  Or
should targeting decisions be made by the Army, the service
designated by Congress to conduct land battle for the United
     During Desert Storm, the Air Force component commander,
dual-hatting as the JFACC, chaired the targeting board which
prioritized targets.  The land combatant forces, the army
and the Marine Corps, took issue with strategic target
priorities outside the Fire Support Coordination Line
(FSCL), particularly when faced with both an imminent ground
offensive and an enemy capable of inflicting heavy losses on
attacking ground forces.  The hegemony of U.S. sea and air
power, and the necessity for land-force victory in today's
conflicts demand that air and naval forces support the
land-force commander.  Should the supporting air forces also
decide how the land force commander should be supported?
Regardless of how the services solve this most basic
question, until mankind begins to live on the sea, and live
away from the earth's surface, the power to maintain control
of the land mass will be the single requisite determinator
for achieving conflict resolution.
     Individual service targeting differences arise from
different perspectives on how to most effectively and
efficiently utilize military forces to prosecute a war and
achieve military objectives.  By no means does this demand a
major restructuring of our military.  However, it should
bring to light the critical requirement for land-force
victory and the differences the services have in achieving
that requirement
     Consensus is not required to address causative reasons
for disagreement because equally viable alternatives exist
for war prosecution.  Still, a fair consideration of
opposing views remains an effective and important tool to
maintaining a clear understanding of the necessary events to
conclude conflict and to choosing alternatives.  However, as
in the case of the Air Force study of the Gulf War,
rejecting outright the portion of the study's results which
portrayed a dissenting view leads a reader to question the
original motives of research and analysis.(10:3)
     In Lt.Col Douglas MacGregor's study on the merging
levels of war, he described an article by three Russian
Generals studying the lessons and conclusions of the Persian
Gulf War. (8:40))   These Russian Generals registered three
important stipulations to the overall American capability
during Desert Storm to project air and naval forces globally
in order to exert political  influence.  These were:
     1.  The air offensive failed to destroy Iraqi ground
     2.  The air offensive failed to destroy the Iraqi
nuclear complexes.
     3.  It was the ground offensive that compelled the
Iraqis to submit unconditionally to the
American-led coalition forces.
This outside perspective adds important weight to the
necessary influence of ground forces to conclude conflict.
The JFACC might take great issue with a proposal for him to
act solely as a supportability advisor for targeting.  Any
objection to such a proposal would rightly recognize that
units fighting wars are supporting or supported.  The JFACC
is a supporting agency.  So too is carrier air for the Navy,
and Marine air for the MAGTF. This will remain a fact of
warfare for as long as political boundaries are drawn on the
earth's surface.
     The Navy controls an air arm critical to successful
mission accomplishment and integral to sea supremacy and
protection of the fleet.  Reluctant as Naval aviators may be
in acknowledging their role in sea supremacy, they remain a
supporting force of the surface fleet, while retaining the
capability to project power ashore.
     The Marine Corps is a combined force organized to be
employed as Air/Ground task force. Maneuver warfare being
developed, taught, and discussed throughtout the Marine
Corps makes no suggestion that the Marine ACE, as a maneuver
element or as the main effort, is supporting or supported.
The aircraft, independent of service, ultimately supports
ground forces in their scheme of maneuver.  Without the air
arm, the Marine Corps cannot adequately support the Marine
Expeditionary Force (MEF) commander or the ground forces.
Without ground forces, the ACE brings no meaning to the
organization.  Marine Corps force employment enables the
United States to forward deploy at sea with an intimidation
force which far exceeds political diplomacy or rhetoric. The
very organization of the Marine Corps allows for support to
ground units inherent within the organization, support which
cannot be relied upon by Army units depending on JFACC
allocation of TACAIR.
     One compensatory fact is the significant artillery
capability of Army forces, coupled with the Close in Fire
Support (CIFS) provided by the Blackhawk helicopter.
However, these forces were not employed for 38 days into the
Gulf War and did not bring their offensive firepower to bear
until the ground offensive began.   If future conflicts are
fought with a strategy similar to Desert Storm, the Army
must still depend on the JFACC's target selection process
currently envisioned.
     The position thus far stated, of targeting priority
deference to the GCC, is vulnerable to an objection due to
parochialism.  AFSC Pub 1 states specifically that joint
warfare demands that services drop prejudicial views for the
overall benefit of teamwork warfighting.(7)   Also, the
process of instituting a major change such as a transfer of
decision-making authority is extremely slow to implement in
the military services, regardless of the focus of effort or
the strength of the proponents of the proposed change.
     During the long and continuing process of developing
joint warfare doctrine, the JFACC remains a commander and
coordinator of supporting air forces seeking to reduce the
enemy's combat power sufficient to ensure the greatest
safety to ground combat forces pursuing their objective.
One great contributution to joint warfare would be to place
the destiny of the GCC in his own hands, allowing him to
recommend to the CINC the balance between strategic and
tactical targets for destruction.
     Service air forces will remain supporting forces for so
long as the nature of occupying and extracting  wealth from
the earth's land mass remains prevalent over occupying and
extracting wealth from the sea or space.  Warfare can be
expected to change at the same pace that political conflicts
over land mass boundaries transition from land surfaces to
the surrounding seas and the airspace.  This is no small
observation in defining the course of modern warfare today
and anticipating warfare tomorrow.
1.  Air Force JFACC Primer. HQ USAF:DCS, Plans and
Operations. 1992,11.
2.  Collins,J.J. "Desert Storm and the Lessons of Learning."
Parameters, Autumn 1992,83-95.
3.  Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
130120Z Dec 91,3
4.  Commanding Officer, Marine Air Control Group 28.
"Lessons Learned from Desert Storm."  Marine Corps Air
Station Cherry Point, NC.  3 April  1991,3.
5. Dade,LtCol .S.W. "Adventures in Targeting." Marine Corps
Gazette, June 92,34-37.
6.  Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Omnibus Agreement for Command
and Control of USMC TACAIR in Sustained Operations Ashore."
March 1986,1.
7.  Joint Staff Officer's Guide 1991. Amed Forces Staff
College Publication 1. Norfolk, VA. National Defense
University. 1991,2-21.
8.  MacGregor,Lt.Col.D.A. "Future Battle: The Merging Levels
of War." Parameters, Winter 1992-93,33-47.
9.  Motz,Maj.D.W., "JFACC: The Joint Air 'Cold War'
Continues . . . " . Marine Corps Gazette, January 1993,65-71.
10. Munro,N. and Opall,B  "Survey Questions U.S. Air
Efficiency in Desert Storm." Defense News, 1-7 February
11. Peters,T.J. and Waterman,Jr.,R.H. In Search of
Excellence. Harper and Row. 1982,232.
12. Schmidt,Col.S.W. and Williams,Col.C.L. "Disjointed or
Joint Targeting?"  Marine Corps Gazette, Dec 92,21-22.
13. Thomas,Maj.T.W. ,"Joint Force Air Component Commander
(JFACC)/Omnibus Agreement,"  Lecture: USMC Command and Staff
College. 12 January 1993.
14. Unified Action Armed Forces (UNAFF). Joint Chiefs of
Staff Publication 2.  Washington, D.C.  December 1986,3.
15. U.S. Central Command Position Paper. "Component
Representation on Joint Forces Air Component Commander"
(JFACC). 4 March 1992,7.
16. U.S. Commander in Chief Atlantic Command and U.S.
Commander in Chief Pacific Command Joint Force Air Component
Commander (JFACC) Concept of Operations. 15 January 93,4.
17. Winton,H.R.,  Reflections on the Air Force's New
Manual", Military Review.  November 1992,20-31.

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