Air Combat Command Eyes Organizational Changes To Enhance Multi-Domain Operations

The U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC) is studying potential organizational changes to improve its ability to operate seamlessly across multiple domains, ACC’s leader said Nov. 20.

The review is looking at how best to integrate ACC’s air superiority, attack, command and control, cyber and information warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, said Gen. James "Mike" Holmes, ACC’s commander. It is also exploring how to better link ACC with Air Force Mobility, Global Strike and Space Commands and with other military services.

Gen. James "Mike" Holmes, head of the Air Force's Air Combat Command, speaks at an Air Force Association event. (Photo by Marc Selinger/Defense Daily)

Gen. James "Mike" Holmes, head of the Air Force's Air Combat Command, speaks at an Air Force Association event. (Photo by Marc Selinger/Defense Daily)

“We’re looking at different options for organizational structures, and we’ll roll those out over the next year or so,” Holmes said at an event hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute.

Air Force officials believe they will need a multi-domain approach to operate effectively in contested environments. With the Army taking a similar view, which envisions land forces being able to fight in air, sea, space and cyberspace, Holmes has been consulting closely with Gen. David Perkins, the head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) to ensure the two services work together.

One organizational change ACC already expects to be asked to make is to absorb the cyber-focused 24th Air Force, which is now part of Air Force Space Command. ACC is studying how to ensure the 24th Air Force works well with the ISR-focused 25th Air Force, which already falls under ACC.

ACC and Air Force Space Command are collaborating on a transition plan “to make sure that we don’t just bring it over and slap 24th and 25th together and put another level of bureaucracy on top of it,” Holmes said. “Our joke is, where will people walk across the grass between the two organizations before we pour the concrete?”

The 24th and 25th are both headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.

The Air Force is also studying whether to transfer ACC’s rescue units to Air Force Special Operations Command so rescuers could use the latter command’s CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to complement their existing HH-60 helicopters and HC-130 planes.

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