The Air Force is implementing changes to its global air and space expeditionary force construct to provide more predictability in tour length and tempo for airmen, especially those in stressed career fields such as security forces and battlefield airmen who have been deploying to Southwest Asia for longer than the 120-day standard and have been called upon more often for overseas stints. Air Force Personnel Center said in a May 13 release the improved construct will build upon the Air and Space Expeditionary Force (AEF) current set-up but will utilize four new tempo bands. The baseline, tempo band A, matches the current construct of five 120-day AEF pairs operating on a 1:4 deploy-to-dwell tempo, which means an airman in this band deploys for four months and spends 16 months in non-deploy mode. Tempo bands B through E are designed “to provide predictability, structure, and rule sets” for the nearly 50 percent of functional areas that currently operate at a tempo greater than 1:4 or for a duration greater than 120 days, AFPC said. The unit type codes—groupings of airmen and equipment—in bands B through E will be postured in six-month blocks, at a 1:4, 1:3, 1:2, and 1:1 deploy-to-dwell time, respectively. For example, an airman aligned in band C with a 1:3 deploy-to-dwell tempo can expect to deploy for six months (179 days), and then spend 18 months in dwell status, according to the release. AFPC said operational testing of this construct has begun for select functional areas. The Air Force expects to incorporate additional areas in four phases, with initial operating capacity for the total force by the late fall. The new construct will also facilitate more predictable planning of reserve component participation both in volunteer and mobilized status, AFPC said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.