Air Forces Europe meets modern crises

Maj. Carl Dumke
USAFE Commanders Action Group

***image1***In response to today’s challenging, evolving environment, U.S. Air Forces Europe has taken a lead role in Air Force transformation by establishing its newest warfighting headquarters – Air Forces Europe.
The genesis of AFEUR began with lessons gleaned from the air war over Serbia. This conflict identified the need for an organization above the wing level to command and control airpower within a given theater.
This new warfighting headquarters provides U.S. European Command with a full-time air component responsible for theater-wide vigilance to anticipate crises, conducting long and short-range planning, prepare for crises, and executing combat and combat support operations to respond to crises. This transformation is more than just a reorganization of the command. It puts warfighting elements under one organization while reducing USAFE’s reaction time.
AFEUR has five key components to accomplish its mission: the commander, the AFEUR staff, the Air Operations Center, the Air Intelligence Group and the Air Planning and Operations Cell.
As the AFEUR Commander, Maj. Gen. Stan Gorenc provides the vision and focus to this new unit. He is supported by the AFEUR staff, functionally aligned and tasked to support the deployment, employment, sustainment and redeployment of air and space forces.
The AOC, with its Air Forces NATO cell, provides the core command and control capability to monitor theater air activity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The AOC is also the tool to direct operational mission execution within the theater.
Typically, these missions include theater airlift, combat execution, or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sorties in the theater.
A key element of the AOC is the Air Mobility Operations Control Center. The AMOCC provides the dedicated expertise to control theater air mobility missions.
The AIG supports the AOC and AFEUR commander. This combined USAFE and Air Combat Command group provides focused, multi-intelligence information for theater commanders and the Joint Forces Air Component Commander.
The APOC at Stuttgart is AFEUR’s final element. It functions as the USAFE commander’s air component coordination element to EUCOM. It supports the joint team by providing EUCOM with the tailored talent to shape EUCOM’s current and future adaptive planning efforts at its European Planning and Operations Center.
Recently, AFEUR had an opportunity to exercise its capability in response to a real world situation.
At 2 a.m. March 18, AFEUR launched into action when EUCOM ordered it to deploy forces after ethnic violence erupted in the Balkans, killing 28 people. By 6 a.m., two C-130 Hercules aircraft launched from Ramstein carrying an Army rifle company to support the operation. This rapid crisis response epitomized the joint expeditionary nature inherent within AFEUR.
In one organization, the USAFE commander has constant theater vigilance, the ability to plan for current and future crises, plus the ability to deploy, employ and sustain air and space forces.
General Gorenc summed it up, “This change enables USAFE to put the right effect, at the right place, at the right time.”