Cover: Implementation Actions for Improving Air Force Command and Control Through Enhanced Agile Combat Support Planning, Execution, Monitoring, and Control Processes

Implementation Actions for Improving Air Force Command and Control Through Enhanced Agile Combat Support Planning, Execution, Monitoring, and Control Processes

Published Jun 30, 2014

by Kristin F. Lynch, John G. Drew, Robert S. Tripp, Daniel M. Romano, Jin Woo Yi, Amy L. Maletic


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Research Questions

  1. What are some of the shortfalls and gaps in current ACS processes identified by the updated RAND operational architecture?
  2. How can these shortfalls and gaps be addressed?

There has always been disparity between the availability of combat support resources and process performance and the capabilities needed to support military operations, and the current defense environment will likely exacerbate this imbalance. Therefore, operational commanders, authorities who prioritize and allocate resources, and resource providers all need to know how combat support enterprise constraints and alternative resource allocation decisions would impact planned and potential operations and when agile combat support (ACS) process performance breaches the control parameters set to meet contingency operation requirements. Using the vision for enhanced command and control (C2) presented in the architecture developed as a companion piece to this analysis, this report identifies and describes where shortfalls or major gaps exist between current ACS processes and the vision for integrating enhanced ACS processes into Air Force C2. It evaluates C2 nodes from the level of the President and Secretary of Defense to the units and sources of supply. It also evaluates these nodes across operational phases and suggests mitigation strategies needed to facilitate an efficient and effective global C2 network.

Key Findings

There are gaps and shortfalls in many areas, including process; doctrine, guidance, and instructions; training and career management; and tools and systems.

  • In the process area, the overarching shortfall is the inability to provide an enterprise assessment of combat support capabilities and constraints to inform trade-off decisions.
  • Currently, doctrine and policy do not clearly define and delineate the command and control roles and responsibilities of combat support organizations.
  • Trained personnel are necessary to help remedy shortfalls by conducting integrated capability assessments and developing scarce resource allocation schemes.
  • Models and tools are needed to help relate combat support resource levels and process performance to operationally relevant metrics.

While the Air Force has taken steps to address these shortfalls, some goals still need to be met.

  • Global capabilities need to be assessed in a standard, repeatable manner that is linked directly to the ability to meet operational requirements.
  • The results of individual supply chain and functional capability assessments need to be integrated and balanced into a set of capabilities that can be used in planning and replanning processes.
  • There should be a defined process to arbitrate between and among competing operational demands.
  • Codifying processes in doctrine, guidance, and instructions would help to institutionalize process improvements.


  • To begin addressing these challenges, the Air Force could call a command and control (C2) symposium, bringing together Air Force communities that play key roles in this area to define assessment and control technique requirements; vet capabilities; identify necessary changes in doctrine, guidance, and instructions; develop needed training enhancements; and define organizational roles and responsibilities.
  • Codify new processes in doctrine and guidance.
  • Delineate the roles and responsibilities of each C2 node, including logistics, operational, and installation staff; Air Force commanders; MAJCOMs; and others, in doctrine and guidance.
  • Identify a commander who can be given the authority to move the Air Force toward an integrated C2 vision enhanced by agile combat support processes.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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