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USAF Unmanned Aircraft System Plan 2009-2047

USAF Unmanned Aircraft System Plan 2009-2047


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United States Air Force Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Plan 2009-2047
United States Air Force Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Plan 2009-2047

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Published by: bill_duncan on Jul 25, 2009
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Objective: Assess options for UAS units to support multiple CCDRs if needed by 4QFY10.
OPR: LeMay Doctrine Center; OCR: ACC and AFSOC

UAS reach-back operations coupled with long endurance platforms have the potential to blur
apportionment directives. For example, the current Expeditionary Wing Commanders are tasked to
support more than one theater with the same crews and control stations. This can extend to a single unit
supporting multiple AORs. However this ability also challenges existing doctrine that normally only
assigns a given unit to a single CCDR. When portions of a given service unit (squadron, group, wing) are
supporting multiple AORs (e.g. The 347th

expeditionary wing), it is essential to determine who or what

organization allocates a given capability on a minute by minute basis.

Solutions to this issue will require doctrinal and organizational changes to include possibly establishing a
level of command with authorities to reallocate forces by the 4QFY09. This issue is similar to the
allocation of strategic airlift through the 618 Tanker Airlift Control Center (TACC). Joint Functional
Component Commanders (JFCC) for ISR (STRATCOM JFCC ISR) and Transportation (TRANSCOM) will
address the UAS that primarily support those respective functions; however multi-role long range systems
do not currently have an overarching functional COCOM. This is further exacerbated because today two
separate tasking organizations require UAS assets and three when UAS take on a significant cargo
transportation role. Multi-role UAS need to support JFCC ISR tasks as well as air tasking order (ATO)
force applications missions. This challenge will increase since the MQ-9 has been designated to backfill
missions currently met by 250 older fighter aircraft slated for early retirement. These competing tasks
must also be balanced by the command authorities under this initiative.

Nontransferable command authority established by Title 10 (“Armed Forces”), United States Code,
section 164, is exercised only by commanders of unified or specified combatant commands unless
otherwise directed by the President or SECDEF. Combatant command (command authority) cannot be
delegated and is the authority of a combatant commander to perform those functions of command over
assigned forces involving organizing and employing commands and forces, assigning tasks, designating
objectives, and giving authoritative direction over all aspects of military operations, Joint training, and
logistics necessary to accomplish the missions assigned to the command. Combatant command should
be exercised through the commanders of subordinate organizations. Normally this authority is exercised
through subordinate Joint Force Commanders and Service and/or functional component commanders.
Combatant command provides full authority to organize and employ commands and forces as the
combatant commander considers necessary to accomplish assigned missions. Operational control
(OPCON) is inherent in combatant command.

simultaneously assigned with specified OPCON or Tactical Control (TACON) to multiple CCDRs. Any
transfer of forces between CCDRs requires Presidential or SECDEF approval. However, a single unit can
be used in support of multiple CCDRs, but there are two major drawbacks:
1. CCDRs need the certainty of the UAS capability via their exercise of OPCON and TACON. Partial or

temporary “ownership” of a capability that may be pulled back by a higher HQ makes it nearly impossible

to effectively plan or execute in a fluid operational environment.

Air Force UAS Flight Plan

- 54 -

2. Legal command authority and responsibility issues could arise if portions of an operational mission fail
and an investigation traces the cause back to the source of the tasking and orders. This scenario may be

putting the “lending or owning” CCDR in the position of being responsible for an operational mission that

they were not actually executing operational authority over.


1. Long term “permanent” solution: Title 10 USC, and the resulting Unified Command Plan (UCP), must
be reviewed in light of modern capabilities. A single Joint Command, at the National level, could be
empowered to oversee and prioritize global operations for those assets capable of participating in a

“global joint force.” That command would have the ability to coalesce and allocate any available assets
(UAS, space, airlift, global strike, cyber, et al). In this paradigm, the term “available” takes on a unique

meaning. Other than staff support, no forces would be assigned to that Senior Command, however the
Command would have SECDEF-like authority to rapidly swing forces (capabilities) from one CCDR to
another. Those forces would be under the OPCON and TACON of the gaining CCDR for a specified

2. Short term “current” solution: While doctrine recommends that forces should be attached to (and
under the OPCON of) the commander charged with the responsibility for mission execution (e.g.,
CDRUSCENTCOM), it also allows for deviation based on changes in the operational environment. The
current OCO presents a relatively unique operational environment that crosses many CCDRs AORs.
With a carefully constructed Direct Support agreement between CCDRs, the SECDEF could – in the case
of Predator/Reaper operations – designate a functional CCDR as a supporting commander and
CDRUSCENTCOM (or any CCDR) as a supported commander for all missions. The functional CCDR,
through COMACC, then places UAS units in direct support to CDRUSCENTCOM through CENTAF/CC.
A properly written directive needs to be created, establishing authorization for the commander of the UAS
units to respond directly to the operational mission requirements and tasking of AETF/CC.

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