According to current doctrine, which is still authoritative but not directive, the Joint Force Commander (JFC) of a joint task force can organize its force, as he likes. Depending on the situation, the environment, the nature and the volume of its assigned or attached forces, on its task, and in order to establish unity of command and unity of effort, the JFC can choose to exercise command and control through his joint staff, through service component commanders, or through functional component commanders, which has been the case most of the time lately. Given its preponderance of force and its ability to command and control in the air, through its Air Operation Centers (AOC), the US Air ...view middle of the document...
Also iterative, this process is adaptable and flexible as are force structures and command authorities.
Indeed, in order to favor more or less control and/or flexibility in the command structure, the C/JFACC(s) can be placed at different levels. It can remain at the Geographic Combatant Command’s (GCC) level, and support several areas of operations and/or several task forces. The GCC can otherwise subordinate a C/JFACC to each JFC. Another variant is to have multiple C/JFACCs sharing one single operation center.
In terms of command relationships, the C/JFACC is usually entrusted with TACON on the forces he is allocated, with the exception when he is dual-hated and Commander of the Air Force Forces (COMAFFOR) at the same time. In this case, he will also have OPCON and ADCON over his service’s forces. Moreover, the C/JFACC is often entrusted with some additional authorities and thus responsibilities, such as airspace control authority, space control authority, or/and area air defense authority.
In order to employ and exert its multiples controls and authorities, the C/JFACC relies on the Theater Air-Ground control Systems (TAGS). This complex structure is a powerful and effective tool. Joint combination of the Air Force Tactical Air Control Systems (TACS) and one or more of the other services’ control systems, it allows the C/JFACC to command and control air assets and, most importantly to synchronize, coordinate and integrate their actions and fires with those of other warfighting functions, capabilities and forces. It ensures effectiveness, efficiency and, more importantly, reduces as much as possible safety issues and fratricial kills.
Considered as a weapon system by the US Air Force, the AOC is the structure, “owned” by the COMAFFOR, which puts, for the C/JFACC, his guidance into practice. Through the Joint Air Tasking Cycle (JATC) the AOC translates commanders (JFC and C/JFACC) guidance into long term plans, and subsequently, plans into orders and tasks on a day to day basis.
The AOC is split into five main divisions operating alongside with additional specialty teams and support teams. The strategy division is the “brain” of the AOC that is running phase 6, 1 and part of phase 2 of the JATC. Among many other tasks and roles, it performs both long and medium term planning for the air component and produces the JAOP and the Air Operation Directive. It also generates the C/JFACC’s apportionment recommendation for the JFC’s approval. It finally does the assessment of completed air actions.
The combat plan division is running JATC phases 2 to 4. It drafts then produces the Joint Integrated and Prioritized Target List (JIPTL), and recommends the allocation of air assets and weapons to targets. It elaborates on a daily basis the master air attack plan, the Air Coordination plan (ACP) and Air Coordination Order (ACO), the Special Instructions (SPINS) which includes the Rules of Engagement (ROEs), and the Air Tasking Order (ATO), which are key...