The Air Force is moving out on its top general’s number two focus area – Strengthening Joint Leaders and Teams.
In the fall of 2016, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein announced three areas he considers foundational to the Air Force: Revitalizing Air Force squadrons, Strengthening Joint Leaders and Teams, and Focusing on Multi-Domain Command and Control.
“Airpower and what our Air Force brings to the joint team is foundational to all current and future campaigns,” Goldfein said. “As such, strengthening how we organize, train, and present forces to combatant commanders...and how we build joint leaders with the tools, experience, and training to both support and lead joint teams is critical to success.”
The CSAF Focus Area No. 2 champion is Brig. Gen. Brian Killough, director of Air Force Strategy, Concepts and Assessments. Killough recently approved five lines of effort to organize and ready Airmen to lead joint operations in future security environments.
Through the lines of effort – Educate and Train, Career Development, Optimized Teaming, Joint Warfighting Headquarters, and Messaging and Narrative – the Air Force will strengthen the development of joint leaders and teams to better understand the synergy of air, space and cyber power, and synthesize the capabilities the air component brings to the joint fight.
“This is a big endeavor,” Killough said. “We’re laying out a road map, an Air Force Flight Plan. It’s going to label what organizations are responsible, what steps we believe they need to take, what resources they need, and how long it will take.”
In a deliberate evolution, the Air Force will be ready with leaders and structures that consistently think, plan and fight joint, he said. The forces of the future will be organized to fight as agile, tailorable, expeditionary teams, with proficient core cadres prepared to join and lead joint and coalition forces.
“This is an issue for Air Force officers, enlisted and civilians,” Killough said. “It’s going to be a long-term endeavor – we hope to identify and implement steps quickly, but it will take years.”
Airmen development will be reinvigorated to better integrate and align with the Joint Force, including the capability to drive it.
The Air Force envisions that education and a common joint lexicon will begin in basic training and include all commissioning programs, and continue throughout a career through training, deployments and assignments, Killough said. Organization structures if necessary will be adjusted to maximize their effectiveness to joint operations while maintaining Air Force character.
“It’s a cultural shift,” Killough said. “The fight is no longer a single-service perspective. It is too fast, too complex, and every organization and coalition partner play a key role. The Air Force is naturally aligned across services, domains, and the globe. We bring a unique perspective based on the way we think and the capabilities we provide. Our effort will address the organizational culture shift to ensure we are aligned, seamlessly integrated, and prepared for joint warfighting excellence.”
The efforts are the culmination of a conference held in January where more than 70 leaders from nearly all major commands came together to tackle the “Strengthening Joint Leaders and Teams” focus area. The flight plan for these efforts is expected to be released later this year.
“I think the whole team feels a sense of pride and responsibility to get after it for our Airmen,” Killough said. “We must be an Air Force that not only fuels the joint force, but also has the capability to drive it.”
For more details, see the CSAF’s letter, “Strengthening Joint Leaders and Teams…a Combined Arms Imperative