The reemergence of credible near-peer threats means command and control must become more decentralized and survivable than today’s air operations centers, according to panelists at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. “The C2 systems that we use to implement our battle plans are woefully inadequate. Our air operations centers and combined AOCs are too large and unwieldy,” retired colonel and C2 consultant Richard Reynolds said on Thursday. Large AOCs present tempting targets “for both cyber and kinetic attack” as well as a “single, paralyzing, point of failure,” he added. “C2 assets need to be more nimble in the 21st Century—they must find ways to operate in a distributed manner, allowing for graceful degradation in wartime.” Airborne or mobile command centers, as well as commanders communicating overall intent and delegating tactical level decision making to lower echelons, will likely be critical. “We must find ways to build trust and cohesion … while allowing for dispersal,” Reynolds 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.