US Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General David Allvin, has set a challenge for the USAF workforce to find innovative responses to challenges facing the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) doctrine which will define the force’s capacity to generate combat power around the world.
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As the US Air Force (USAF) continues to evolve and adapt to the new generation of joint domain warfare in the face of mounting great power competition, the US Air Force Chief of Staff, General Charles Brown Jr, calls for the force to “Accelerate Change or Lose”, and Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall’s complementary focus on Operational Imperatives emphasises the delivery of “threat-informed capabilities” to maximise the USAF’s capacity to respond globally.
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General David Allvin has launched the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) doctrine using the foundation established by GEN Brown and Secretary Kendall to recognise and respond to “The changing character of war will privilege lethality, speed, agility, and resilience — acceleration matters” in order to provide the USAF with a qualitative and quantitative edge of potential adversaries.
ACE is defined in GEN Allvin’s force doctrine memo as a key component of the broader US Armed Forces pursuit of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) capabilities and central to the US Air Force’s future capability and force generation cycles: “Agile Combat Employment (ACE): a proactive and reactive operational scheme of maneuver executed within threat timelines to increase survivability while generating combat power.
“When applied correctly, ACE complicates the enemy’s targeting process, creates political and operational dilemmas for the enemy, and creates flexibility for friendly forces. To effectively accomplish joint force commander objectives, ACE requires reexamining a wide variety of enabling systems, to include: command and control (C2), logistics under attack, counter-small unmanned aircraft systems, air and missile defense, and offensive and defensive space and cyber capabilities.
“ACE is an operational concept that supports joint all-domain operations (JADO). Joint force operations are increasingly interconnected, interdependent, and challenged. Anti-access and area denial threats, reduced freedom of maneuver, and rapid proliferation of advanced technologies challenge the Air Force’s ability to operate. The successful employment of ACE positions the force to observe, orient, decide, and act in concert across all domains. To achieve freedom of action, ACE enables convergence across domains, presenting an adversary with dilemmas at an operational tempo that complicates or negates adversary responses and enables the joint force to operate inside the adversary’s decision-making cycle,” GEN Allvin’s doctrine states.
This push to operationalise ACE aids four key warfighting areas:
- Codifying repeatable and understandable processes;
- Forces that are suitably organised, trained, and equipped;
- Theatres that are postured with the appropriate equipment, assets, and host nation agreements; and
- Joint service and partner nation integration and interoperability.
GEN Allvin explained the importance of this focus, saying, “The imagination and creativity resident in our Airmen is vital. Airmen are our critical advantage. Airmen have the ideas and ingenuity required to help us accelerate and fly, fight and win … airpower, anytime, anywhere.”
Airmen whose ideas will move forward in the Vice Chief’s Challenge will be paired with innovators from across the force, to include key players on the Air Force headquarters staff who advocate to adopt similar concepts. Morpheus innovation team will take 6 to 12 promising ideas and directly shepherd Airmen and ideas through the innovation adoption process.