***image1***AEF. These three letters represent the heart of the organizational transformation of our Air Force, yet somehow this ever-growing and evolving Air Expeditionary Force construct is often misunderstood by many of our own Air Force’s air and space power warriors.
With another AEF rotation on short-final, this is a great time to review the fundamentals of the AEF concept and what it means to us as Air Force warriors.
Each AEF is a combination of combat air forces, mobility air forces, expeditionary combat support, and low density/high demand assets. Together, these capabilities are wrapped into one AEF package.
Right now, our Air Force is divided into 10 AEFs. We pair two of these AEFs together, so in total we have five AEF rotations. This means that if things are steady in the world, each expeditionary Airman must be ready to deploy during their regular AEF vulnerability window for 90 days every 15 month period.
What does this mean? First and foremost, we are all part of the AEF and must be ready to go when needed. This means all of our readiness “ducks” must be in a row.
This ranges from medical to training readiness, to personal and family readiness issues. Each of your units has a readiness officer or NCO that ensures we all remain prepared, but each of us is ultimately responsible for keeping ourselves as ready as possible at all times.
Of course when we have a major operation like Iraqi Freedom, the Air Force must do what’s needed. The regular rotation schedule may be modified or extended.
Why do we do things this way? The Air Force chief of staff wants to make our lives better. If we know when our AEF “turn” is coming and how long it will last, then we can plan our personal and professional lives and prepare to fight.
It adds stability to our lives and predictability to our deployments. The AEF also helps solve our Air Force’s problem of how to prepare to fight.
In addition to deploying, this means that the regular AEF rotation we see in the form of iron on the ramp moving forward to the fight was, is, and will remain a key part of our mission contribution to the warfighter.
This, then, is our Air Force’s AEF — the way we are now organized to fight and win.