Ramstein tests warfighting concept

1st Lt. Elizabeth Aptekar
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

***image1******image2***U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s planning and warfighting skills were put to the test here Jan. 30 to 16 during Austere Challenge 2004.
Approximately 500 16th Air Force, USAFE command and stateside augmentee members comprised a joint air operations staff during the first of a three-phase training exercise testing the warfighting headquarters concept, said Col. Steven DePalmer, 32nd Air Operations Group commander.
 “COMUSAFE (U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander) directed that USAFE be the first Air Force major command to migrate to the new ‘warfighting headquarters’ concept,” said Colonel DePalmer. “This means that we should be able to fight a war at the flip of a switch, rather than waiting for stateside augmentation.”
The first phase of the exercise involved Crisis Action Planning and writing a Joint Air Operations Plan. The 32nd Air Operations Group, with both rated and non-rated specialties from communicators to planners and operators, combined with the 152nd AOG from New York to form USAFE’s Air Operations Center.
 “This week we are training with 16th Air Force, and applying the strengths and restraints that are a part of real day-to-day operations,” the colonel continued. “Working with Air Forces Europe (formerly known as USAFE Theater Air and Space Operations Center) and the Air Force Forces staff, we’re developing a solid plan, so that whatever we come up with operationally can be supported with basing, beds, beans and bullets.”
As the command’s only AOC, its personnel support both the 3rd and 16th Air Force; developing the strategy and plans to support theater operations, said Colonel DePalmer.
“(We’re) applying air, space and information power to achieve the effects the Joint Force Commander wants,” he said. “The AOC monitors all this in real time to assess if our strategy is working.”
Lt. Gen. Glen “Wally” Moorhead III, 16th Air Force commander, was dual hatted as the Joint Forces Air Component Commander and the Commander of Air Force Forces for the exercise.
The JFACC’s role is to conduct the combat operations through the AOC, whereas the AFFOR’s role is to support and sustain the fight.
“We are at the stage where we get familiar with the scenario and find out what the joint forces commander is going to ask us to do,” the general said. “We work through processes, we figure out the intent and how we are going to set up for this.
“This week is an academic training session to learn the basic foundation and doctrine of why we are doing this — it sets the stage and the foundational piece in how we develop our strategy with a whole new generation of warfighters,” he said. “The training helps warplanners make the important connection between unit-level tasks and their overall strategy so that airmen on the flightline know and understand why they are doing what they are doing.”
Overseeing this first warfighting headquarters concept was the USAFE Inspector General, who evaluated Phase I of the AFEUR Certification process.
“Traditionally, the evaluation teams focus on inspections at the tactical level of warfare such as flight, squadron and wing level,” said Col. John Snider, USAFE Inspector General. “This is the first time for us on the op-erational level or higher – it’s a certification rather than inspection.”
During the certification, IG personnel looked at key processes, organizational structures and products of the scenario, said Colonel Snider. The scenario products, such as the development of strategy and planning, deployment or movement of forces and employment to accomplish the mission, are designed to replicate what happens in real world. “We are helping develop an organization with emerging concepts when nothing is written,” he said. “…It’s a tribute to the professionalism of these airmen.”
Since there is no basis for a rating system, a mission-ready or not mission-ready recommendation will be provided to the USAFE commander. The recommendation will include strengths and areas of improvement, and will also identify teams and individuals.
Although this concept may be new, the command isn’t “winging it.” General Moorhead is getting help from some experienced joint warfighters throughout the exercise, and said he appreciates getting mentored by people who’ve “been there, done that, got the T-shirt.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Short, Operation Allied Force Combined Forces Air Component Command and former 16th Air Force commander; as well as retired Lt. Gen. Joseph Hurd, former Air Component Command commander U.S. Combined Forces Command and 7th Air Force commander, are the senior leaders providing expertise.
They’re ensuring scenarios provide a realistic depiction of the uses and impacts of aerospace power, particularly in this exercise of a joint campaign model.
“It’s important to understand that while our focus tends to be on flying airplanes … of equal importance is the support structure behind it,” said General Short. “In this case it’s what we call the Air Force Forces. You can’t fly airplanes if you haven’t got fuel, you haven’t got a place for all the people to sleep or eat, if you haven’t got force protection, most importantly if you haven’t got communications. There is an enormous effort and it’s a very difficult task.
“ … We tend to see the employment on CNN or NBC,” he continued. “But the American public really doesn’t understand that (in order to) fly the airplane that just took off it took thousands of men and women supporting that effort — that is of equal importance as the employment.”
The second phase of Austere Challenge 2004, is scheduled in February. It will consist of a deployment exercise, including planning for a flow of forces to support an operation. The final phase to test and certify the concept will be the actual execution of a combat operation. This phase is scheduled for March.