News

USIS Washington 
File

04 August 1998

FUTURE AIR FORCE WILL FOCUS ON GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT, NOT CONTAINMENT

(10 combat-ready units will be key to reorganization) (630)

By Jacquelyn S. Porth

USIA Security Affairs Writer



Washington -- Recognizing that the United States needs to have a
permanent capability to respond rapidly to multiple emergencies around
the world, the Air Force announced plans August 4 to reorganize
equipment and personnel into 10 Air Expeditionary Forces (AEFs)
beginning in the year 2000.


Air Force Chief of Staff Michael Ryan says the decision represents a
shift from a strategy of containment to one of global engagement. He
told reporters at the Pentagon that it represents "a real paradigm
shift."


Each unit will be able to provide "decisive firepower and humanitarian
support," according to Acting Secretary of the Air Force F. Whitten
Peters, who accompanied Ryan at a Pentagon briefing on the
reorganization strategy. He says the new plan will "link
geographically separated Air Force operational wings, groups, and
squadrons -- Active, Reserve, and Guard -- into AEFs, each with a
cross-section of Air Force weapons systems to include fighters,
bombers, support aircraft and tactical airlift, with integrated
command and control, trained as a unit to respond rapidly and
decisively to potential crises anywhere in the world or to fill in
rotational assignments such as Operation Southern Watch" in Iraq.


Peters said under the new initiative each AEF will be "tailored" to
the particular contingency it will support whether it is in Bosnia or
Africa. This will allow air forces to be "lighter, leaner, and more
lethal than ever before," he added. It is meant to provide "a superior
21st century fighting force," he said.


According to the plan, which will be implemented on January 1, 2000,
each AEF will be on-call every 15 months to handle any emergency
overseas for a 90-day period; two AEFs will be on-call at any given
moment. The plan will allow Air Force Active, Reserve and Guard units
to train together deploying from some 29 military bases in the United
States and overseas.


Each AEF will be equipped with 175 aircraft with a full spectrum of
capabilities such as F-15 fighters, A-10 attack aircraft, C-130
transports, E-3 surveillance as well as refueling aircraft. F-117
Stealth fighters and B-52 and B-2 bombers also will be available for
deployments if needed as part of the package.


The plan attempts to address a number of factors including the desire:


-- to have a more agile force,

-- to improve the quality of life by lowering the tempo of operations
for Air Force personnel who have been deployed overseas with ever
greater frequency since the end of the Cold War;
-- to use the Air Force Guard and Reserve forces more effectively,
particularly as the numbers in the active Air Force continue to
decline;
-- to boost efforts to retain qualified military pilots; and

-- to provide more advance warning for families and employers
regarding planned deployments.


Ryan said the driving force behind the Expeditionary Aerospace Force
is to ensure a world class Air Force. This involves responding quickly
to "many pop-up contingencies" as well as easing the burden on
overworked military personnel.


In the past six years, for example, the Air Force has conducted more
than 500 humanitarian missions to the former Soviet Union. In the past
two years, there have been more than 60 Air Force deployments dealing
with counter-narcotics efforts in Latin America.


Peters pointed out that the Air Force still will respond to major
theater wars outside of the AEF organization "in accordance with
existing war plans." But as the AEF structure matures, he said, "we
expect it to be used for major theater wars as well as contingencies."