Cover: An Operational Architecture for Improving Air Force Command and Control Through Enhanced Agile Combat Support Planning, Execution, Monitoring, and Control Processes

An Operational Architecture 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. How can agile combat support (ACS) be better integrated into operational planning?
  2. What are some of the shortfalls and gaps in current ACS processes?
  3. How can these shortfalls and gaps be addressed?

Currently, agile combat support (ACS) planning, execution, monitoring, and control processes are poorly integrated with operational planning processes and have little ability to show how resource allocation decisions would impact planned and potential operations. This report presents an architecture that depicts how enhanced ACS processes could be integrated into Air Force command and control (C2) as it is defined in Joint Publications. This architecture, which focuses on the near term (the next 4–5 years) using current Air Force assets, was created by (1) evaluating previous RAND-developed operational architectures from 2002 and 2006 and (2) refining those architectures in light of the current operational and fiscal environments. It first identifies C2 processes and the echelons of command responsible for executing those processes and then describes how enhanced ACS planning, execution, monitoring, and control processes could be integrated with operational-level and strategic-level C2 processes to provide senior leaders with enterprise ACS capability and constraint information.

Key Findings

The inability to provide an enterprise assessment of combat support capabilities and constraints to inform allocation decisions across Air Force operational priorities is a major shortfall.

  • There is no standard, repeatable process to plan, execute, monitor, and control individual agile combat support (ACS) supply chains and functional capabilities within the Air Force command and control (C2) system.
  • The methods used to incorporate individual supply chain and functional capability assessments into an integrated and balanced set of capabilities that can inform planning and replanning processes are insufficient and there is no organization tasked with this responsibility.
  • The processes used to arbitrate between and among competing operational demands are deficient.

While there is general agreement about their value, ACS processes are not currently established and defined in doctrine, and guidance, tools, and systems are lacking.

  • Enhanced ACS processes are not captured in doctrine, guidance, and instructions.
  • Detailed roles, responsibilities, and authorities are not captured in doctrine, guidance, and instructions.
  • No organization is charged with integrating and balancing stovepiped resource assessments to provide capability and constraint information to the warfighter.
  • Without clear guidance, enhanced ACS processes may not become institutionalized in how the Air Force does business.


  • Codify new processes in doctrine and guidance.
  • Delineate the roles and responsibilities of each command and control (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 was conducted by Project Air Force. Further information may be obtained from the Strategic Planning Division, Directorate of Plans, Hq USAF.

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