Refocus Command and Control

The speed of modern operations and today’s threats are combining to put pressure on how the US military conducts command and control, according to speakers at AFA’s Air & Space Conference last week. The Combined Air and Space Operations Center, which serves as the nerve center for air campaigns across the world’s combatant commands, needs some rethinking, especially how they command and control forces and disseminate commanders’ intent, said retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. CAOCs were largely designed with the lessons of the Gulf War in mind and stood up in the 1990s, but technology since then has allowed the rise of “micromanagement” of air and space operations from the highest levels of command down to the tactical point of operations. With near peer adversaries now targeting how the US performs C2, hard work needs to be done on this mission. Lt. Gen. Russ Handy, commander of 11th Air Force, said Pacific Air Forces has worked heavily on distributed C2 in exercises, but attention should be paid to the C2 of forward forces, and whether those lines go through a component commander or a joint commander. When real operations kick off it is important that those lines are not “fuzzy” or ambiguous, he said.