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Right-Sizing Airpower Command and Control for the Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Maj Gen Charles W. Lyon, USAF Lt Col Andrew B. Stone, USAF
ized control procedures for a mature, enduring campaign. Finally, I offer a few thoughts on how and why we arrived at this juncture.
n 3 November 2010, the commander of United States Air Forces Central Command (COMUSAFCENT) signed and released an order establishing the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force– Afghanistan (9 AETF-A). This order represents an important moment because it alters the 20-year-old model of how COMUSAFCENT, in his role as the 9 AETF commander, presents forces to the supported joint force commander (JFC)—in this case, the commander of US Forces–Afghanistan (COMUSFOR-A).1 This article serves as a complementary piece to Lt Gen Mike Hostage’s article “A Seat at the Table,” which appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of this journal.2 It documents how this change in USAFCENT’s airpower command and control (C2) structure developed, tempered by my observations and perspective as the commander charged with implementing the COMUSAFCENT’s vision. First, I explain the initial tasks that General Hostage gave me as director of the “empowered” air component coordination element (ACCE). As I do that, I illustrate how we began to evolve into what has become the AETF staff. Next, I discuss why this evolution was necessary and the rationale for creating a subtheater C2 echelon in today’s war-fighting environment. I do so to give the readers of this journal one Airman’s sight picture on how we can adapt central-
Empowered Air Component Coordination Element (2009–10)
I will cash any check my ACCE writes.
—Lt Gen Mike Hostage COMUSAFCENT
The dialogue to empower the ACCEAfghanistan (ACCE-A) organization began in earnest in 2009. My predecessor, Lt Gen (then Maj Gen) Stephen Mueller appealed for and received sufficient resources to place liaison officers across adjacent headquarters (HQ) structures in Kabul. This additional manpower ensured an Airman’s presence in planning cells at Headquarters International Security Assistance Force (HQ ISAF), Headquarters ISAF Joint Command (HQ IJC), and Headquarters United States Forces–Afghanistan (HQ USFOR-A).3 Simply stated, these Airmen “connected the wires” for cross-domain activities. General Hostage presented me his vision of the empowered ACCE construct when I first arrived intheater in May 2010, saying, “Be all things Afghanistan.” Initially, he gave me three tasks, later adding a significant fourth task. These four basic assignments set us on the evolutionary path from the empowered ACCE organization to the 9 AETF-A.
Summer 2011 | 5
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