Airspace Command and Control
Airspace command and control (AC2) as defined in Training and Doctrine Command Pamphlet (Pam) 525-7-3 replaces Army airspace command and control (A2C2), which was primarily a planning and integration process. AC2 is the dynamic integration of all airspace users in accordance with the commander's intent, priorities, and risk guidance.
On 29 August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall. In less than 48 hours the scope of that Category 3 storm overwhelmed Gulf Coast state and local response capabilities. When Hurricane Rita, a Category 4 storm, made landfall on 24 September 2005, the regional situation deteriorated. The Department of Defense (DOD) participated in an unprecedented disaster response effort supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the lead federal agency.
U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) exercised its homeland defense responsibilities and established two disaster response joint task forces (JTFs): Katrina (JTF-K) commanded by First Army, Fort Gillem, GA, and Rita (JTF-R) commanded by Fifth Army, Fort Sam Houston, TX. In addition, 1st Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB), FL was designated to perform command and control for Air Force assets supporting air operations in and around the Katrina joint operating area. To exercise this responsibility, 1st Air Force established the 1st Air Expeditionary Task Force (1st AETF), Tyndall AFB, FL, to be the Air Force service component of JTF-Katrina. When Fifth Army stood up JTF-Rita, 1st AETF became JTF-R's Air Force service component.
1st AETF was responsible for coordinating and integrating relief operations with local, state, and federal agencies. It established air expeditionary groups (AEGs) at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, LA; Alexandria, LA; Keesler AFB, MS; Jackson, MS; and Maxwell AFB, AL. These AEGs supported forward-deployed Airmen on the periphery of the disaster area.
1st Air Force
With its headquarters at Tyndall Air Force Base in the community of Panama City, FL, 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern [1AF/AFNORTH]) is one of five numbered air forces assigned to Air Combat Command. It has sole responsibility for ensuring the air sovereignty and air defense of the continental United States (CONUS), U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. As the CONUS Region (CONR) for the binational North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), CONR provides air defense in the form of airspace surveillance and airspace control.
As the USNORTHCOM air component, AFNORTH is the senior agency in the United States Theater Air Control System (USTACS) and is specifically responsible for the land areas of the continental United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the surrounding seas out to approximately 500 nautical miles. When tasked, it conducts homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities (DSCA) operations in the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility. The DSCA mission is to use air assets to defeat terrorism; support local, state, regional, and federal emergency service agencies; and to protect the American people and their way of life.
AFNORTH is a U.S. Air Force component headquarters/numbered air force consisting of a command element, air staff, personal, staff and air and space operations center (AOC).
Additional authorities may be delegated by the commander, USNORTHCOM to the AFNORTH commander to fulfill special responsibilities in air domain operations, including the following:
Combined Air and Space Operations Center
The Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) executes combined NORAD air missions in accordance with bilateral Canada-US NORAD agreements.
CAOC air mobility division
In coordination with the director of mobility forces-air, the air mobility division (AMD) plans, coordinates, tasks, and executes the theater air mobility mission. This includes air refueling and airlift support to Operation Noble Eagle and civil support missions such as hurricane hunters, Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS), and the military airborne firefighting system (MAFFS). During contingencies, this mission expands to provide the joint forces air component commander (JFACC) /combined forces air component Commander (CFACC) with a single air mobility picture in the USNORTHCOM area of operations (AOR) including state-directed Air National Guard (ANG) forces (Title 32) and federally directed active duty forces (Title 10). By providing this information, the AFNORTH AMD is able to ensure continuity and synchronization, prevent duplication of effort, enhance safety, and promote efficiency of assets across the entire air mobility spectrum of operations.
Airlift control team
The airlift control team (ALCT) is the source of intratheater airlift expertise within the AMD. The ALCT brings intratheater airlift functional expertise to plan, task, and coordinate intratheater airlift operations for the commander of Air Force forces. The ALCT has three responsibilities: planning, tactics development, and long-range requirement determination. In the AFNORTH AOR, virtually all airlift missions are planned by the Air Mobility Command (AMC)/Tanker Airlift Control Center (TACC) at Scott AFB, IL with coordination through the ALCT. DSCA missions, including hurricane hunters, MASS, and MAFFS, provide exceptions. For DSCA, the ALCT provides planning efforts and coordination with individual units and lead civilian agencies to achieve desired goals while also incorporating in the USNORTHCOM air tasking order (ATO).
Aeromedical evacuation control team
The aeromedical evacuation control team (AECT) is responsible for aeromedical evacuation operational planning, scheduling, tasking, and assisting the air mobility control team with execution and monitoring. The AECT coordinates airlift support and evaluates available air mobility airframes assigned to or transiting the theater for possible tasking to meet theater aeromedical evacuation (AE) requirements.
The AFNORTH CAOC/AMD does not have a standing AECT. During contingency operations, when aeromedical evacuation is required, AMD augmentation is typically provided by AMC to form an AECT at the AFNORTH AOC for the purpose of providing the JFACC with a single air mobility picture. In cases where augmentation is not available, the AMD ensures coordination between AFNORTH/surgeon general and the Global Patient Movement Requirements Center at Scott AFB, IL to coordinate and accomplish any USNORTHCOM-directed aeromedical evacuations.
Regional air movement coordination center
The AFNORTH regional air movement coordination center (RAMCC) is part of the joint concept of operations for air mobility during crisis response. The RAMCC stands up during contingencies to provide management of airflow into and out of designated airfields for the purpose of maximizing personnel and cargo throughput. It coordinates with military C2 elements (contingency response group [CRG], contingency response element [CRE], and contingency response team [CRT]) present at the airfields to determine maximum on-ground limitations and factors that affect airflow. The RAMCC then coordinates with the FAA, TACC, NGB, and ALCT to determine and issue slot times for aircraft transiting the contingency airfield.
Airbase and airfield opening: Contingency response group, element, and team
Cross-functional contingency response groups (CRGs), contingency response elements (CREs) and contingency response teams (CRTs) are designed to rapidly deploy - without formal request - to support the openings of airbases or airfields or to extend existing airfield infrastructure. Both the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) and the ANG have units that provide teams that vary in size from 12 to 113 members, depending on the support required. Their capabilities include airfield assessment, airfield operations, C2, aerial port, aircraft maintenance, air traffic control, intelligence, security, fuels, supply, contracting, and finance. AMC has six CRG units located at two contingency response wings; the 615th at Travis AFB, CA and the 621st at McGuire AFB, NJ. The ANG has two CRGs: the 123rd CRG at Louisville, KY and the 108th CRG at McGuire AFB, NJ.
The CRG/CRE is under the operational control (OPCON) of USTRANSCOM, but OPCON may be shifted to the USNORTHCOM commander after initial deployment when a formal support relationship is mandated by Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Once deployed, CRG/CRE can self-sustain for five days after which resupply is required. Units should be relieved by follow-on forces no later than 45 days from the CRG/CRE arrival date regardless of status. Early planning and submission of a request for forces for follow-on air expeditionary forces are essential.
Mobile aeromedical staging facility
A mobile aeromedical staging facility (MASF) is a rapid-response, patient-staging facility used across the spectrum of conflict. The MASF provides the ability to receive, process, and support patients awaiting AE.
Contingency Response Air Support Schedule
During hurricanes Katrina and Rita, conducting traditional command and control of DOD forces during contingency operations became problematic because availability of secure communications was limited. The large number of non-DOD forces operating in the area made the air picture more complex. To assist with collaboration and coordination, the CAOC Combat Plans Division implemented the following procedures for ATO and contingency response air support schedule (CRASS) processes.
The CRASS is not a "tasking" document. It serves as a visibility document intended to maximize visibility of air operations in the disaster area or joint operations area (JOA) among all participants.
Classified means will be used to disseminate taskings for aircraft assigned, attached or operating in support of the JFC as determined through consultation with component commanders. JFACC normally exercises OPCON of U.S. Air Force forces and tactical control of any Navy, Army, and Marine aviation assets made available to the JFACC. All taskings will be coordinated by the JFACC and published in an AFNORTH ATO. According to Joint Publication (JP) 3-30, Command and Control for Joint Air Operations, inclusion of component air assets in the ATO does not imply any command or tasking authority over them. The responsibility for planning, coordinating, and developing ACP/ACO and operating an airspace control system also rests with the JFACC. Classified AFNORTH ATO, as well as amplifying information (ACP/ACO/special instructions [SPINS]) will be developed and published by 601 CPD. All information is available on Theater Battle Management Core Systems (TBMCS)/web browsers on releasable to Canadian and U.S. forces (RELCAN) and SECRET Internet Protocal Router (SIPR) networks through 601 CPD website and updated according to the ATO cycle.
Unclassified means will be utilized to disseminate CRASS and amplifying information (ACP/ACO/special instructions [SPINS]). CRASS will enable increased SA of all aircraft (including non-DOD) operating in the JOA. The CRASS includes all interagency missions, as well as planned flying by other agencies (including Title 32 ANG, etc). The fidelity of this product depends on the information provided by non-DOD agencies and organizations. It will be published using a common application (Excel) to ensure data access. It requires increased coordination with state emergency operations centers (EOCs), law enforcement agencies and other agencies to ensure accuracy.
While compliance with the ACO/ACP/SPINS is not mandatory, non-DOD agencies are encouraged to provide inputs to the CRASS worksheet. All information will be updated in accordance with the classified ATO cycle. CAOC CPD will coordinate with state EOC and other agencies to ensure fullest dissemination of required documentation and increased support of JFACC mission. Required information is published on the AFNORTH public domain Internet website: "AFNORTH.US/sample/CRASS%20Contingency%20Response%20Air%20 Support%20Schedule/Forms/AllItems.aspx".
The website address will also be published on any FAA Notices to Airmen created in response to the contingency.
Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) Air Support Handbook, Headquarters First Air Force/Air Forces Northern (1AF [AFNORTH]), 1 January 2009.
TRADOC Pam 525-7-3, The United States Army Concept Capability Plan for Airspace Command and Control for the Future Modular Force, Version 1.0, 20 April 2009.
AFNORTH Fact Sheet, "http://www.1af.acc.af.mil/library/factsheets/afctsheet.asp?id=4107", August 2008.
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012