Released: 18 Dec 1998
WASHINGTON -- With little more than a year left before concept becomes reality, plans for the expeditionary aerospace force are moving ahead.
After the New Year, Air Force officials will announce the lead wings for the first of 10 air expeditionary forces that will form the overall EAF. Meanwhile, the service has already activated the headquarters division that will guide EAF development.
Each move is another step toward full development of the expeditionary aerospace force concept by Jan. 1, 2000. With his staff working details large and small, the start-up date will arrive with the EAF ready to fly, according to Maj. Gen. Donald G. Cook, director for expeditionary aerospace force implementation.
"People in the field are enthusiastic about the EAF, but have many questions" the general said, adding that airmen anxiously want to know more about the organization that promises to bring more predictability to their lives. For them, Cook injected a word of caution.
"There's a level of detail people want to know about that we can't tell them yet because we don't have all the answers," he said. "We ask for their patience. And, we also need feedback from everyone on how we're executing the concept, especially as the first two AEFs begin deployment preparations in October."
Current plans call for announcing the first two air expeditionary forces in January, as part of the overall schedule. These units will each include fighter aircraft, tactical airlifters and support forces, which could respond to a wide array of wartime and humanitarian missions whenever the need arises.
Of the 10 air expeditionary forces planned, two of them will be on call or deployed to a foreign hot spot at any given time. Two more AEFs will be in final deployment preparation, while the remaining six organizations will continue with normal training and exercises, staying prepared for their turn on call.
With this system in place, the expeditionary aerospace force expects to provide commanders in the field a wide array of support comprised of:
-- Rapidly responsive forces;
-- Lighter, leaner and more lethal forces;
-- Forces tailored for specific needs;
-- More stable, predictable and available forces;
-- An integration of the total force (active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve); and
-- An institutionalized expeditionary culture.
For their part, Cook said airmen can also expect to see positive changes in the way they do business, as the EAF provides:
-- More predictable, stable schedules;
-- Support structure improvement; and
-- Use of the total force.
These changes will not take effect overnight, nor does the general promise instant success.
"We will probably have the 85-percent solution in place by 2000," Cook said. "This is a growing concept. We will find areas where we need to work harder as we venture forth. Remember, we are talking about a concept to move our Air Force forward into the 21st century."
Overall, however, the general sees the EAF in full operation as a great improvement over how the Air Force supports its people and customers.
"What the EAF will do depends on where you sit," Cook said. "If you're an airman in a deploying unit, you can have predictability in your life because you'll know when you'll deploy. Major commands can use the EAF as a force management tool. For theater commanders, the EAF will be a force presentation tool. For our country, this is the best way to present Air Force forces for the 21st century."
None of this would be possible, Cook said, without a complete reliance on airlift.
"Air Mobility Command is the key to making this work," he said. "They set up the air bridge to provide the global reach. They transport the people and supplies to make the EAF concept work. With AMC's help, we can deploy lighter, leaner and faster, and thus deploy more effectively."
Likewise, the general noted the vital role of the Guard and Reserve. With a well-planned role for the total force, he said, the overall deployment burden will ease for everyone in the Air Force -- active-duty, Reserve and Guard.
Cook explained while aerospace expeditionary forces will be on call or deployed for 90 days at a time, Guardsmen and Reservists will still rotate in and out of the deployed forces much as they do today. Aircraft and equipment will remain at deployed locations while Guardsmen and Reservists serve their normal tours.
The difference from today's routine, the general added, is that everyone can plan for their deployments up to 12 months in advance.
"America has always been a militia nation, to call on in times of crisis," Cook said. "Now we can call on our forces in a time of stability. They can predictably plan deployments. This rainbow of people into and out of the theater is one of our greatest assets."
"We're well on the way to building America's 21st century Air Force," Cook said. "We'll be more capable and more responsive, ready to meet our nation's needs."
For more information about the EAF as it develops, .mil- and .gov-domain users can access the Expeditionary Aerospace Force Homepage, recently activated and growing, at http://eaf.dtic.mil.
* Air Force Reserve Command
* Air Mobility Command
* Air National Guard
* Expeditionary Aerospace Force