[SatNews: In-Depth] There are a number of changes having just been announced by Air Force leaders—through various deactivations and organization realignments, these changes will certainly affect the USAF in many ways... as well as to ensure ongoing financial reductions for those who deliver USAF technologies...
The changes will affect Headquarters Air Force, Major Commands, Numbered Air Forces and Field Operating Agencies and should result in savings of $1.6 billion across the Air Force in the next five years.
"I will work to ensure the world's best Air Force is the most capable at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "Everyone knows our economy is still not where it should be; we have a responsibility to ensure that every dollar adds value to the taxpayers and our national defense. We are aggressively pursuing reductions within the first year, rather than spread them out over five years as allowed by DoD. It's better for Airmen as it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize our workforce sooner. It also allows us to harvest the savings earlier so that we can plow it back into readiness and some of our key modernization programs."
The changes are a result of a comprehensive effort to reduce overhead costs, increase efficiencies, eliminate redundant activities and improve effectiveness and business processes (also known as Air Force Management Headquarters Review). The efficiencies created through the reorganization will also help meet the Department of Defense's directive to reduce costs and staff levels by at least 20 percent, eliminating 3,459 positions at headquarters across the Air Force, both in country and at overseas locations. As part of ongoing cost savings initiatives, the Air Force will also continue to reduce contract spending, operating budgets and travel expenditures.
To minimize the effect on civilian personnel, the Air Force will initiate Voluntary Early Retirement Authority programs and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay to foster voluntary reductions before pursuing involuntary measures. As part of ongoing efforts to responsibly shape the force, military members were offered a variety of voluntary incentive programs. The Air Force's goal is to go beyond the 20 percent reduction mandated by the DoD so any additional savings can be achieved from staff functions above the wing level, and set to provide additional combat capability to the combatant commanders.
"The Air Force has been making incremental changes in our business practices for the last several years, but we must change the way we are doing business if we are to meet the Air Force's goal to reduce staffing functions by more than 20 percent," said Bill Booth, Air Force's Acting Deputy Chief Management Officer. "Reducing higher headquarters' staffs means we can save money that can be re-invested in getting ready for combat missions at the wing level."
The largest initiative will include centralizing policy and oversight of installation and mission support activities within a newly created Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, which will report to Air Force Materiel Command. Execution will remain at the local level. The Air Force will also make changes to the Headquarters Air Force staff organization by splitting Operations, Plans and Requirements (A3/5) and Strategic Plans and Programs (A8) and reorganizing them into the new Operations (A3) organization which will stand alone and merge the planning staffs into the new A5/8 organization. Also, the current programming functions from A8 will be merged into the service's financial management organization (FM). Support functions currently spread across the MAJCOMs' staffs will be centralized at the AFIMSC.
The Air Force will also realign several functions that currently report to the headquarters in an effort to better support combatant commanders and realign some field operating agencies to operational MAJCOMs, merge FOAs with similar missions and deactivate others. The Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency is also being realigned from Headquarters Air Force as a FOA to become part of a new operational numbered air force under Air Combat Command. Realigning the Air Force ISR Agency into the new 25th Air Force within ACC ensures warfighting commands will have the best possible intelligence from integrated national and tactical ISR capabilities, while appropriately realigning operational activities and "organize, train and equip" responsibilities of the AF ISR Agency from execution by Headquarters AF to a MAJCOM.
In example, the Air Force will realign its ISR Agency from a field operating agency to the 25th Air Force (25 AF), a newly designated numbered air force with headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.
The agency's current commander, Maj. Gen. John N.T. "Jack" Shanahan, will be reassigned as the commander of the 25 AF, and most organizations presently aligned under the AF ISR Agency, such as the Air Force Technical Applications Center (Patrick Air Force Base, Florida), 70th ISR Wing (Fort Meade, Maryland), 480th ISR Wing (Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia), and 361st ISR Group (Hurlburt Field, Florida.), are projected to become a part of 25 AF. The Air Force Cryptologic Office at Fort Meade, the liaison office to the National Security Agency, will also fall under the new NAF. The National Air & Space Intelligence Center (Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio) is scheduled to remain directly aligned with the Air Staff under the Air Force Intelligence directorate, HAF/A2.
The effort is more than a re-designation of the ISR Agency. While processing, exploitation and dissemination, targeting, and source analysis will come together under the new NAF, so will some ACC organizations with ISR aircraft. The 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, California, and the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, will be realigned from 12 AF at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, to 25 AF. Additionally, ACC's Air Force Targeting Center will also be realigned under 25 AF and will transition from a center to a targeting and analysis wing. In all, approximately 28,000 Airmen are expected be assigned to 25 AF. The new organization is intended to provide more effective integration of tactical, theater and national ISR capabilities.
"The reorganization will enable us to meet our mission partners' intelligence requirements more effectively and will strengthen our relationship with the intelligence community," said Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of ACC. "It also provides one command structure for ISR Airmen, which is very important as we normalize the ISR mission into the combat air forces. Combatant commanders and other mission partners count on Air Force ISR capabilities every day; it's a complex and critical mission set that is fundamental to who we are as CAF Airmen—it's a part of our DNA."
With this realignment, the Air Force will build on its existing ISR enterprise and continue to provide proactive intelligence, responsive ISR operations and comprehensive analytical assessment products critical to decision-makers. It will also enable ACC Airmen to produce standardized products for customers seeking multi-disciplined intelligence, including analysis, imagery, targeting and other capabilities in support of international emergency relief and other peacetime operations. Ultimately, the realignment allows for better integration of tactical, regional and national ISR capabilities, said Hostage, noting that the unity of command will help the Air Force better meet the intelligence requirements of mission partners and combatant commanders. Hostage, who previously served as the commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command in Southwest Asia, said the integrated ISR capabilities supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan led to this point.
"The synergy of ISR capabilities we achieved in air operations centers over the past 10-12 years proves the enormous value of consolidating these resources," said Hostage. He also noted "incredible leadership" the AF ISR Agency had maintained through several previous name changes and alignments, executing ISR operations in concert with the national intelligence community, DoD's combat support agencies, and joint and coalition partners. The 65 year history and accomplishments of the agency will be retained within 25th Air Force, as will the same mission focus, the general stressed. "Combatant commanders and our other mission partners count on us to meet their requirements—that won't change, and this realignment helps ensure we stay operationally focused to meet their needs."
The NAF is projected to standup this fall.
The preceding Information is courtesy of the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs office.