Air Operations Center (AOC) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
Twelfth Air Force (12AF) Air Force Forces (AFFOR)
Order or disorder depends on organization; courage or cowardice on circumstances; strength or weakness on disposition.
- Sun Tzu
A. As the senior element of the Theater Air Control System (TACS), the AOC is the operational facility in which the Air Component Commander (ACC) has centralized the functions of planning, direction, and control over deployed air resources. If designated as the Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC), these functions will be performed within the guidance provided by the Joint Force Commander (JFC). The JFACCís AOC may be termed a Joint AOC (JAOC), or a Combined or Coalition AOC (CAOC) depending on the force composition. For purposes of this document, it is assumed that the Commander Air Force Forces (COMAFFOR) is the ACC and has been designated as the JFACC and the operational center will be termed the AOC. The AFFOR monitors/resolves logistics, support and other service issues for USAF units deployed to the theater or operations. The AOC functions at the component or force level and provides the ACC with the capability to direct and supervise the activities of assigned or attached forces and to monitor the actions of both enemy and friendly forces. In order to operate, the AFFOR AOC requires connectivity to operations centers of higher headquarters, lateral headquarters, and subordinate units. This allows for the continuous collection and presentation of battle management information. This data is used by AOC personnel in accordance with the priorities, objectives, and strategy of the JFC and ACC to conduct detailed direction of all air operations.
B. In most cases the AOC will be collocated with the AFFOR staff. Both elements will generally be merged in the same location to eliminate duplication of effort and to facilitate coordination of efforts. This document, and the associated organization and procedures, reflects the most common situation where the AOC and the AFFOR are collocated. In cases where they are not collocated, the organization and procedures will require tailoring to meet the specific situation.
2-2. AFFOR AOC MANNING AND SUPPORT. Generally, deployed AFFOR AOC integrates equipment and cadre personnel from a Numbered Air Force (NAF)/component staff. Although equipped with organic communications and shelters, the use of fixed facilities and supplemental communications will be utilized when appropriate. AFFOR AOC manning is based on a cadre or core concept with personnel selected for their air operations, communications, intelligence, logistics, combat service support, and battle management expertise and knowledge of command and control concepts and procedures. This cadre is augmented by additional personnel who are knowledgeable in the current capabilities and tactics of each of the aircraft, intelligence platforms, or weapons systems being employed. Whenever possible, augmentees should be pre-identified and receive pre-deployment training and orientation.
2-3. AFFOR AOC ORGANIZATION. The AFFOR AOC is composed of functional elements responsible for plans, operations, intelligence, logistics, combat service support, and communications-electronics (see Annex B this chapter). The size of the command and control organization required in a joint/combined operation depends largely on the mission(s) assigned, size/number of the forces (surface, sea and air) involved and the location of the AFFOR staff. Initially, the AFFOR AOC may simply guide the arrival and positioning of air resources, conduct a show of force or limited air operation while continuing to help develop the supporting plans and agreements necessary for their continued support and operations. During a contingency operation, the USAF component could range in size from a single squadron to numerous wings. The size of the resulting AFFOR AOC might vary from a limited capability represented in the quick response package (QRP), the limited response package (LRP), to a fully operational AFFOR AOC capable of a DESERT STORM level of effort represented in the theater response package (TRP). Normally, the AFFOR and the AOC deploy under separate UTCs which marry up to give the AFFOR AOC deployed capability. Whatever the size of the force involved, the necessity for the senior USAF commander to have one central command and control system to exercise control over his forces remains the same.
A. AOC Organizational Structure. When constituted, the AOC consists of an AOC Director and the following major functional elements: Combat Plans Division (CPD), Combat Operations Division (COD), Combat Intelligence Division (CID), and the Airlift Control Center (ALCC). The NAF Commander will designate who will function as the AOC Director. NAF staff and assigned groups/squadrons personnel assume roles within the AFFOR and the major AOC functional areas. In situations where the AFFOR is not collocated with the AOC, the Logistics Readiness Center (LRC), Combat Service Support Center (CSSC), and the System Control center (SYSCON) will have appropriate liaison cells manned within the AOC to provide required support and coordination.
B. AOC Director. The AOC Director is responsible for the centralized planning, directing, controlling, and coordination of air effort and all assets assigned, attached or made available to the COMAFFOR/JFACC in support of the operation or exercise. The Director is responsible to the COMAFFOR/JFACC for the tasking and execution of all air operations. Specific responsibilities of the AOC Director are delineated in Annex A.
C. Combat Plans Division. The CPD is responsible for the air campaign planning function of the AOC. The CPD is divided into three sections: Campaign Plans, the Air Tasking Order (ATO) Production and the Airspace Control. Additionally, the Plans Intelligence Branch(PIB), a section of the Combat Intelligence Division, and the Airlift Plans Branch, a section of the Airlift Control Center, are integrated into CPD. The CPD develops the air campaign strategy and apportionment/allocation recommendations for the COMAFFOR/JFACC, and produces the ATO and related documents, e.g., Airspace Control Order (ACO), Joint Integrated Prioritized Target List (JIPTL), Tactical Operations Data(TACOPDAT), and Operational Tasking Data Link (OPTASKLINK) messages.
D. Combat Operations Division. The COD is responsible for the execution of the current ATO. The COD is divided into the Offensive Operations Branch, the Defensive Operations Branch, the Airspace Control Branch, and the Weather Support Branch. Additionally the Operations Intelligence Branch is integrated into the COD. The COD also includes a Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) which supports or could be also designated as the Joint Search and Rescue Center (JSRC). As with Combat Plans, the Ops Intel and Airlift Plans Branches are integrated into the Combat Ops Division.
E. Combat Intelligence Division. The CID directs all the intelligence activities within the AOC. The PIB and the OIB provide direct support to the CID coordinates tasking of all intelligence assets to support AOC requirements. The Director of Combat Intel also manages the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) when deployed in support of the AOC.
F. Airlift Coordination Center. The ALCC is the primary AOC functional area responsible for planning and executing theater airlift operations. It is subdivided into the Airlift Plans, Airlift Ops, and the ALCC Support branches. The Airlift Plans and Ops Branches are fully integrated into the AOCís corresponding functional areas (CPD and COD). The ALCC Support Branch is supported by logistic experts who coordinate movement requirements with both the end-user and the Joint Movement Control Center (JMCC). The ALCC works hand in hand with the AMCís Air Mobility Element and the Director, Mobility Forces (DIRMOBFOR), theater Air Mobility Command representative. Additionally, when deployed, the Aeromedical Control Center (AECC) becomes part of the ALCC.
2-4. Systems Control Center (SYSCON). The SYSCON directs the employment and connectivity of Air Force Communications-Computer systems (C-CS) elements within the theater of operations. It may also be assigned SYSCON responsibilities for theater joint network(s). The SYSCON consists of the Site Management Branch, Operations Control Branch, Systems Administration Branch (SYSAD), Deployed Systems Support Branch, and the Tactical Radio and Communication Engineering (TRACE) Team/Engineering Branch.
2-5. Logistics Readiness Center (LRC). The LRC is the focal point for all logistics issues within the theater of operations. It is responsible for the centralized direction and control of the deployment, reception, and redeployment of allocated/assigned logistics assets and the execution of logistics functions. Further, the LRC supervises logistics actions related to mobility, operations, aircraft serviceability, munitions, aerospace ground equipment, mobility readiness spares packages (MRSP), petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL), transportation requirements, and transportation assets within the area of responsibility (AOR). The LRC consists of the Logistics Plans Cell, Aircraft Maintenance/Munitions Cell, Supply/Fuels Cell, Transportation Cell, and the Contracting Cell. The LRC provides logistic movement expertise to the ALCCís Airlift Support Branch
2-6. Combat Services Support Center (CSSC). The CSSC is the focal point for all support issues affecting air operations within the theater of operations. It is responsible for the theater beddown, sustainment and redeployment support to include, but not limited to air base defense, ramp/runway availability, billeting, food service, information management, postal operations, medical support, and personnel.
2-7. Air Mobility Element (AME). Air Mobility Command (AMC) establishes an Air Mobility Element (AME) through which centralized monitoring of strategic mobility missions is performed. The AME provides briefing data, data on the status of current strategic mobility operations and ensure proper coordination and deconfliction with other air operations. Additionally, AME duty officers provide threat warnings and changes of air defense status to AMC strategic mobility elements/units. Although working directly for AMC, the AME works in close coordination with the DIRMOBFOR.
2-8. Battlefield Coordination Element (BCE). The Land Component Commander (LCC) normally provides a BCE which is integrated within the AOC, generally, the 1st Battlefield Coordination Detachment, Ft Bragg NC. The BCE Chief is responsible to the LCC and coordinates with and receives priorities and guidance directly from the LCC's G3 (Operations). The BCE's mission is to support the integration of air operations with ground maneuver. BCE personnel are integrated into AOC divisions to support planning, operations, air defense, intelligence, airlift/logistics, airspace control, and communications.
2-9. Naval and Amphibious Liaison Element (NALE). These personnel from the maritime components (USN/USMC) support the AOC in integrating naval and marine air, naval fires, and amphibious operations into the theater air campaign, as well as coordinating air support requirements for naval and marine components.
2-10. Special Operations Liaison Element (SOLE). The JFSOCC provides a SOLE to the JFACC/JFC staff or appropriate service component air command and control facility to coordinate and synchronize SOF air and surface operations with joint air operations. A major SOLE responsibility is shared asset coordination/deconfliction. Under the SOLE chief, SOF liaison representatives provide SOF air and ground operations expertise throughout the JAOC.
2-11. Liaison Personnel. The air component may require other liaison augmentation to support AOC functions including Coast Guard (rescue), Space Command, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, and allied personnel in various operational and support areas.
ANNEX A - AOC Director
ANNEX B - AOC Organization
ANNEX C - AOC Requirements and Set-Up
ANNEX A TO CHAPTER 2
1. GENERAL. The AOC Director is directly responsible to the ACC for the daily operation of the AOC and the conduct of air operations in the AOR. The director is assisted in this task by the individual division/center leaders within the AOC.
A. Exercising operational control of all operational elements of the TACS.
B. Supervising and directing the operations of the AOC.
C. Translating the JTF Commander's and the JFACC's guidance into specific resource allocation necessary in the development of the ATO, that is, numbers of sorties by aircraft type for each mission category - Counter Air (CA), Close Air Support (CAS), Air Interdiction (AI), etc.
D. Ensuring the ATO incorporates all appropriate guidance.
E. Approving, or through his designated representative, the ATO for release and publication.
F. Directing the monitoring, evaluation, and adjustments needed to execute the ATO in order to meet changing tactical situations.
G. Acting as approving authority for prioritization of those tactical communications assets essential to the AOC and subordinate elements of the TACS.
H. Advising the Commander of problems or factors affecting achievements of assigned objectives to include recommended resource allocation, use of specialized assets, and relocation of assigned forces or units.
I. Identifying operational priorities and intelligence needs to the Chief, CID for appropriate intelligence collection, analysis, production and dissemination actions; coordinating information and display requirements necessary to support the CPD and COD.
J. Coordinating support procedures with the BCE, the AME, the NALE, the SOLE, allied nations and any other support agency.
K. Establishing contingency plans and procedures for elements of the TACS that may be disabled or forced into performing autonomous operations.
L. Designate a Theater Battle Management Core Systems (TBMCS) System Manager who will manage all C4I systems for the AOC.
ANNEX C TO CHAPTER 2
AFFOR AOC REQUIREMENTS AND SET-UP
1. GENERAL. The AFFOR AOC may be required to set-up in a number of different ways around the world. The preferred choice would be to have everyone in one building, although this may not be feasible in many instances. Even though we may not know where we will be deployed, or where we will set-up, our basic requirements are the same.
A. It is the responsibility of the Unit Deployment Manager (UDM) to ensure all required assets stated in their unitís Logistics Detail (LOGDET) are available to deploy. If a functional element requires assets outside their LOGDET, the UDM should coordinate with LG, who will consolidate the requirements and procure through available sources. If necessary, LG will work with 12 AF/FM to fund any shortfall requirements. Once they are procured the item becomes the responsibility of the using unit. If the unit feels this item should be included in their LOGDET on a permanent basis, the UDM, along with the LG, will coordinate with the UTC pilot unit to add this item to the LOGDET IAW AFI 10-401, Operation Plan and Concept Plan Development and Implementation. Some assets only warrant contracting the item on an "as needed basis". If an asset falls into this category or a shortfall is found once we have deployed, LG will coordinate through contracting to obtain the required asset.
B. Each functional element is required to obtain and deploy with any special equipment needs and their Unit Deployment Manager (UDM) must ensure these assets are loaded into COMPES.
C. Each AFFOR AOC workcenter is responsible for the physical set-up of their area. AOC/AFFOR physical set-up is not a LG nor SC responsibility. Each unit is responsible for the management and control of all their assets while in theater or during exercise play.
Air Operations Center (AOC) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
Twelfth Air Force (12AF) Air Force Forces (AFFOR)