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Posted: 10/27/2004 4:27:39 PM EDT
I suppose a cynic might say they've heard this before about Air Force support for the army, but it does sound like they're serious this time.

Some new acronyms, too, for those of you who collect those.

Air Combat Command professionals providing the world's best combat air forces, delivering rapid, decisive and sustainable airpower anytime, anywhere.

Air Combat Command News Service

For more ACC news and information, log on to our Web site at http://www2.acc.af.mil/.

ACC creates office to focus on improving joint air/ground operations

ACC creates office to focus on improving joint air/ground operations

By Maj. Dave Honchul
ACC Public Affairs

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- While U.S. military forces deployed to
the Middle East continue operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaders at
home are applying lessons learned from the two campaigns to improve
joint operations between the Air Force and Army.

The first of nearly 20 Air Force and Army initiatives toward improving
"JAGO" -- joint air-ground operations -- became a reality with the
creation of an office at Headquarters Air Combat Command. The office
will address immediate air-ground issues, develop long-term strategies,
integrate all command activities on the subject, and act as the
service's single point of contact for all operational issues in support
of ground forces, said Col. Michael Longoria, director of the JAGO
office. And while the results of the individual campaigns within the
operations have been positive, the services have continued to look for
ways to conduct the operations better.

"We were very successful," Colonel Longoria stated. "But, yet, the past
showed us we had serious deficiencies in this air-ground domain that we
can and must fix."

Looking at those deficiencies, Air Force leadership in Washington issued
guidance to all major commands on five key integrated process teams, two
of which focused on air-ground operations, the director said. ACC was
given the lead for focusing on those two issues due to its preponderance
of battlefield airmen and close air support-type units. At the same
time, ACC was working on improving its relationship with the nearby Army
Training and Doctrine Center, U.S. Army Forces Command, and U.S. Joint
Forces Command in an effort to develop an "Army-Air Force Council of
Colonels" to improve joint operations.

"[The council's immediate focus was] to get at some of these meaty
air-ground issues like number of ground liaison officers that we have in
Air Combat Command, numbers of joint terminal attack controllers that we
support the U.S. Army and other services with, and air control issues
associated with close air support," Colonel Longoria said. "That
graduated into a larger discussion on joint fires initiatives."

It soon became apparent to ACC leaders that as the air component to
Joint Forces Command, the ACC effort needed to be as coherent and
logical as possible as the primary force provider, he said.

"Because of all of these many things that touched the entirety of his
staff, [the ACC commander] made the decision to set up the office to
provide a one-stop shop for addressing critical issues on this
air-ground domain," Colonel Longoria said. "The intent is clear to put
some focus on this air-ground domain, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder
with the U.S. Army as it transforms."

The office is made up of two branches -- the Battlefield Airmen
Division, which focuses on the Air Force career fields [that] work on
the front lines of ground operations, oftentimes embedded with Army
units; and the Close Air Support Division, which focuses on air
operations in support of the ground forces.

The Air Force is not alone in working on improving joint air-ground
operations. The Army is also heavily engaged, he said. One of the
significant initiatives proposed by the Army is the creation of a
Battlefield Coordination Detachment at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., within
the next 12 months.

BCDs are important in that they are the senior-most units representing
the land component requirements to the air component, he added.

The BCD concept is not a new one, said Col. David Estes, deployed as the
director of the BCD detachment at the Combined Air Operations Center at
Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The Army currently has four BCDs.

"The BCD began from a concept born in the late 1980s," Colonel Estes
said. "The first operational [BCD] was used in Desert Storm. It is
designed to provide a vital link between ground and air operations. It
facilitates the synchronization of air and ground operations."

While the plans for the new detachment continue to be finalized, defense
leaders say it will focus on training and working hand-in-hand with Air
Force units to help both services be more effective in conducting
military operations. Just as the Air Force embeds Airmen in Army units,
the Army is more closely associating soldiers with Air Force units,
allowing them to train together as they will fight together. Another
Army initiative includes assigning ground liaison officers with various
combat wings up to the air component level, the colonel said. Jointly,
the services are looking at training opportunities, which could include
the creation of an exercise focused solely on close air support, as well
as enhancing existing air-ground ranges to improve training

"We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Army as one team that will
continue to provide effective, lethal combat capabilities against which
no enemy can hope to prevail," said Gen. Hal Hornburg, commander of Air
Combat Command. "The JAGO domain is critical to our continued success in
future operations."

"Both the Air Force and Army are committed to improving how we work and
train to ensure maximum effects on the battlefield. CAS is inherently
joint, so it is crucial we work together to shape our doctrine and
forces that results in certain rapid success in any battlespace."

For its part, the JAGO office will work toward other Air Force
initiatives, and explore and plan for requirements in training and
equipment to enhance air-ground operations, the director said. This
includes integrating existing and developmental air-ground weapons
systems like the F/A-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter, as well as future
service requirements.

The goal of the initiatives is to ensure the services are prepared to
address whatever threat the nation faces in potential future conflicts.
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