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This article was Originally Published on May 01, 2002 in Volume: 1  Issue: 2

Air Force Transformation

Interview with General John P. Jumper

Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force

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Gen. John P. Jumper is chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force in Washington. He serves as the senior uniformed Air Force officer responsible for the organization, training and equipage of 710,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces serving in the United States and overseas. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the general and other service chiefs function as military advisers to the Secretary of Defense, National Security Council and the president.

A native of Paris, TX, Jumper earned his commission as a distinguished graduate of Virginia Military Institute's Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program in 1966. He has commanded a fighter squadron, two fighter wings, a numbered Air Force, and U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Allied Air Forces Central Europe. Prior to assuming his current position, he served as commander of Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, VA.

The general has also served at the Pentagon as deputy chief of staff for air and space operations, as the senior military assistant to two secretaries of defense, and as special assistant to the Chief of Staff for roles and missions. A command pilot with 4,000 flying hours, principally in fighter aircraft, the general served two tours in Southeast Asia, accumulating more than 1,400 combat hours.

Q: There has been a great deal of discussion about transformation, or changing the traditional methods of action taken in order to accomplish a mission. How does this apply to the U.S. Air Force?

A: Today, the "T" word is certainly the most popular buzzword inside Washington's beltway. In fact, your PowerPoint briefing won't likely make the "A" list unless it includes the word TRANSFORMATION in large bold letters.

The interesting thing about all this is that you'll never hear two people describe transformation in exactly the same way. In the U.S. Air Force, transformation is a 21st century way of thinking used to address 21st century challenges.

A transformational mindset allows us to create asymmetric military advantage over our adversaries through three distinct leverage points: the development of new capabilities-based Task Force Concepts of Operations (CONOPS); the exploitation of advanced technologies; and the harnessing of innovative organizational changes required to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

Transformation also requires that we remain cognizant of our "asymmetrical vulnerabilities" as a free nation and an open society.

Q: General, could you cite any pitfalls to which planners could fall victim in setting program priorities?

A: In our budget-driven, platform-centric world, it is easy to fall victim to simple advocacy in determining program priorities. Get a bunch of generals lined up behind your program and it's sure to succeed. In other words, we decide what we are going to buy to fight with before we decide how we plan to fight or what tactical or operational problem we are trying to solve.

To address this, we are developing a family of Task Force CONOPS that will describe how we tailor forces from the Expeditionary Air and Space Force (AEF) construct and employ them in a variety of real-world scenarios.

Currently, we are working on seven Task Force CONOPS: Global Strike; Global Mobility; Global Response; Homeland Security; Air and Space/Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C2ISR); Nuclear Response; and Air and Space Expeditionary Forces.

Q: Could you briefly describe for our readers what these CONOPS represent?

A: Global Strike Task Force provides a capability to "roll-back" an adversary's anti-access threat and allows access for follow-on forces.

The Global Mobility Task Force details our plans for worldwide rapid movement of assets, including the ability to participate in humanitarian relief or evacuation missions wherever and whenever needed.

Global Response describes how we will use our air and space forces to swiftly strike emerging targetsâ??a capability especially useful in the global war on terrorism.

The Homeland Security Task Force details capabilities needed to track and engage threats at home as well as the synchronization of air and space capabilities with other agencies and services.

Air and Space C2ISR Task Force highlights how we will integrate and employ our manned, unmanned and space network to provide joint forces commanders with predictive battle space awareness and actionable, decision-quality data to engage time critical targets.

The Nuclear Response Task Force describes how we will maintain our nuclear deterrent.

And finally, the Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force describes capabilities necessary to maintain the rotational rhythm and reconstitution of our EAF.

Q: What additional value has been added as a result of adopting Task Force CONOPS?

A: In addition to the inherent operational benefits of defining how we will respond to given scenarios, these Task Force CONOPS also serve as the focus for transforming our planning, programming, budgeting, requirements, and acquisition processes. The key is to make sure the CONOPS, written by operators, lead the process. By beginning with our desired war fighting effect and then moving to the capabilities we need to achieve those effects, we are well positioned to prioritize our resources against the programs that best support the required capability.

This capabilities-based approach helps us to move away from a platform-centric focus and helps us decide how we plan to fight before we decide what to buy. One example of how Task Force CONOPS are transforming the way we do business is the establishment of Task Force Champions on the Air Staff. These champions are charged with tending to the health and well being of their assigned task force.

During the annual budgeting process, they will look across our budget panel structure and argue for the capabilities they need to assure the combat viability of their Task Force.

Q: What is the newly established review process known as the Capabilities Review and Risk Assessment and how does it work?

A: Another example of how CONOPS are changing the Air Force is the establishment of a new review, called the Capabilities Review and Risk Assessment (CRRA). The CRRA, which will be task force-specific, replaces the Quarterly Acquisition Program Review (QAPR).

While the QAPR was platform-centric, the CRRA will review acquisition programs and discuss their disconnects and prioritization in relation to how they support Task Force capabilities. The bottom-line goal for the CRRA is to give senior Air Force leadership an operational, capabilities-based focus for acquisition program decision-making. Critical tradeoffs will be made based on their value added to a capability in the task force CONOPS.

For instance, if Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) is a valuable capability, we should arrange our manned, unmanned, and space platforms to provide the best value GMTI available while avoiding the platform-centric solutions that might argue for this capability to be derived from air, space or other medium.

Q: Although most tracking and targeting capabilities are done from the air at present, do you foresee a move to space-based platforms?

A: There must also be respect for the temporal dimension of our CONOPS. Just like technology, our CONOPS are a journey and not a destination. Using the same GMTI example, we can all be sure that some day most, if not all, GMTI will reside in space.

That time will be when we can track and target with the same fidelity from space as we do now from the air. In the meantime, if we combine the high track precision of Joint STARS with the high ground of space and given the appropriate machine-level interfaces, we can maximize the space radar's contribution to the kill chain.

Integral to the effectiveness of any technology is our ability to harness the synergy of multiple systems. To that end, the Air Force is pursuing the seamless integration of manned, unmanned, and space assets.

Q: What about current assets? Can we do a better job with the systems already on line, and what urgency exists for the creation of the C2ISR satellite constellation?

A: Imagine how much better we could be if we had simply integrated the systems we already have. If we had fully integrated our space systems we would own the information battlespace.

Now is the time to create the multi-sensor, C2ISR constellation where the sum of the wisdom of digital interfaces provides joint forces commanders with actionable, decision-quality information, which can be used to make decisions about emerging, time critical targets. Ultimately, the objective is for the sum of the information to result in a cursor over the target. The "target" could be a bunker we bombâ?¦starving refugees we airdrop rations toâ?¦a clandestine terrorist cellâ?¦or an enemy's power grid.

We should be doing this now. We absolutely must get on with it.

Q: How has Time Critical Targeting proven to be useful technology for air operations?

A: Another important technology area we are working, closely related to horizontal integration, is Time Critical Targeting (TCT). Today's battlespace is increasingly fluid and its targets are ever more elusive. Our target sets tend to be much smaller, more dispersed, and mobile. Addressing this reality requires us to have in place assets that can rapidly respond once a target is identified.

In our current conflict, we successfully demonstrated this concept as a Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) located and tracked an emerging Taliban target. The Predator's streaming video was then provided directly into an AC-130 gunship, which subsequently located and destroyed the target. The demonstration of this TCT capability was a firstâ??and it was transformational.

TCT is proving to be one of the most important issues we face and one that requires our steadfast attention.

Q: How can new technologies be added to an aging air fleet?

A: Transformation must also be applied to our legacy systems. The current age of the Air Force's fleet is 22 years and in spite of the addition of the new aircraft coming on the books, that number still climbs to 30 years by 2020. As we re-capitalize our aging aircraft fleet, we are exploring new ways of doing business. For instance, as part of replacing our 707 fleet (tankers and ISR) with a new widebody fleet, we are pursuing a "Smart" tanker configuration that will be capable of much more than merely aerial refueling.

We know our tankers will be involved in virtually all of America's future conflicts and we want to ensure we capitalize on that by configuring them with sensors and data link capability that will increase our war fighting integration.

Additionally, we are exploring a concept called the Multi-sensor Command and Control Constellation (MC2C) that includes the incorporation of several ISR capabilities on one platform. MC2C would harness America's technological dominance in the field of ground and air moving target indicators, space-based assets, and UAVs.

Q: Could you comment on the role of the CAOC as a force enabler?

A: Perhaps the most critical technology enabler in advancing our war fighting capability is the evolution of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) as a weapons system. Gone are the days of the CAOC being an ad hoc "command and control center" comprised of stove-piped systems, manned by different functionals who were most likely working together for the first time.

Today, the CAOC is the ultimate in force enablers and is being used at various levels in all theaters of operations. At Langley AFB we have established the Combined Air and Space Operations Center Experimental as a key tool in standardizing air and space operations centers around the Air Force as a single weapon system.

Q: Earlier you touched briefly on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the Afghanistan Theater. How would you rate their overall performance and that of the new generation of weapons used against Taliban and al-Qaida forces there?

A: Both the Predator and Global Hawk UAVs have exceeded all expectations in our Afghanistan operations. The Predator, with its Hellfire missile capability, dramatically adds to the warfighters' options. The Global Hawk has proven extremely valuable as a high-altitude, long-endurance ISR platform. Both of these systems are just beginning to find their operational niche and we expect dramatic increases in their utilization. Just over the horizon we expect to see even greater capabilities in the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV).

We anticipate further advancements in precision-weapons development. The 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) proved itself extremely effective in our operations in Afghanistanâ??it is now our bread-and-butter weapon. We also introduced the thermobaric bomb, which delivered a scenario-specific intense heat effect that proved extremely effective in attacking enemy caves.

In the future, the 250-pound Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) will allow legacy and follow-on systems to engage far more targets during one mission than currently possible. The SDB will enable the F-22 to counter the formidable threat of next-generation, double-digit surface-to-air missiles.

Q: What additional organizational changes are underway at present within the Air Force? Could you comment on the new reporting chain under Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)?

A: The Air Force's ability to fully harness the true potential of our capabilities-based CONOPS and advanced technologies requires openness to organizational change. We are pursuing smart organizational changes on several fronts.

In 2001, the Space Commission recommended that the Air Force should serve as the Department of Defense's [DoD's] lead agency for space. We take this responsibility very seriously and are working to implement the Space Commission's recommendations. For instance, the Undersecretary of the Air Force has been identified as the DoD's Executive Agent for Space.

Also, on Oct. 1, 2001, we realigned the Space and Missile Systems Center under Air Force Space Command (AFSPC). We expect this new reporting chain to improve the link between operational requirements and acquisition systems in our space forces. Additionally, we have requested and have been approved for a new four-star general officer billet to lead AFSPC, separate from NORAD and U.S. Space Command.

Q: Could you comment on transformation initiatives underway at the headquarters level?

A: The Air Force continues to make the necessary adjustments required to increase efficiency and ensure accountability. We currently have multiple organizational initiatives underway at the headquarters' level to enhance the effectiveness of our oversight and planning functions.

The one with the greatest impact on our transformational efforts is the establishment of a new headquarters directorate to oversee warighting integration (AF/XI). Its mission is to orchestrate the integration of our war fighting systems to ensure that we capitalize on the required technologies, CONOPs, and organizational changes needed to achieve true integration. Its charter will be to focus on new cutting edge ideas, thus avoiding the constraints of old think.

We also established AF/XOH, responsible for the development of Air Force policies for homeland security. Its charter is to fully synchronize Air Force efforts with those of our sister services and other governmental organizations to ensure the safety of our nation. The impact of the Air Force's role in Homeland Security has been substantial and AF/XOH will oversee and coordinate the myriad aspects of this new mission.

Q: What other programs have been established as a result of the ongoing war against terrorism?

A: In order to more effectively analyze our current operations supporting the war on terrorism, the Air Force created Task Force Enduring Look (TFEL). In past conflicts, we performed lessons-learned studies after the termination of the conflict. In contrast, during our current war on terrorism, we are implementing this studies and analysis function as an integral part of our operation. TFEL is charged with accomplishing Air Force-wide data collection, exploitation, documentation and reporting for Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom.

Its mission is threefold: to provide superior support to the warfighter; to detail the Air Force story during these operations; and to properly identify lessons learned during and at the conclusion of these operations. By reviewing our efforts in near real-time and providing feedback to the warfighter, we can implement necessary changes much earlier. We cannot afford to leave a single stone unturned in our effort to maximize our effectiveness.

We continue to explore organizational changes that will make our depots more responsive to the demands of our aging aircraft fleet, seek industry involvement across the spectrum, and continue to maximize the utilization of the Total Force (Active, Air National Guard, Reserve, and civilian).

Q: Although many of these initiatives are new or just coming on line, have you been able to identify and quantify measurable results, particularly with reference to those undertaken since the terrorist attacks against the United States of last Sept. 11?

A: We are just beginning to realize the potential of our transformational efforts. We have witnessed dramatic improvements in relatively short periods of time. Capabilities that were impossible as recently as our Kosovo operations are now almost taken for granted. This reality is only possible through transformation.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 sent shock waves across the global community. Freedom-loving people value an open societyâ??in an instant, the vulnerability of such a society was vividly exposed. In this diabolical attack, the terrorists unveiled their nihilistic scheme, murdering thousands of innocent peopleâ??men, women, and childrenâ??in the process.

Our enemy is like no other we have ever encountered. His motivation is incomprehensible to the rational mind. His objective is the complete destruction of any entity that does not subscribe to their brand of extremism.

Make no mistakeâ??there can be no negotiation with such an adversaryâ??we must root out and exterminate this enemy, no matter where he hides. The very existence of our free society depends upon our success. Air Force airmen are part of the joint forces team that will achieve that success.

Q: How does the transformational process provide an advantage to the U.S. warfighter? What has it taught us during our recent experience in Afghanistan?

A: We are witness to the true potential of transformation. It can be seen in stories from current operations. Despite being outnumbered, outgunned, and deep within enemy territory, US Air Force Combat Controllers, serving as part of Special Operations Forces (SOF) insertion teams, are serving with distinction using transformational technologies, transformational tactics and joint processes.

We witness transformation when we see airmen traveling by horseback with the tools of their trade (GPS and laser range finders) hanging from a saddle. With secure satellite and radio links, they pass target coordinates to bombers, or fighters from the Air Force, Navy, or Marines flying miles overhead. We see the venerable 40-year old B-52 precisely place a JDAM just 800 meters from our friendly positions. No single piece of this equation is transformational but together it yields a transformational asymmetrical advantage over any enemy.

While the challenge before us is formidable, President Bush provided unequivocal guidance when he stated: "We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail." We who make up the nation's air and space force are part of the team who will make that happen. 

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