Chapter 5: Command and Control (B-GA-403-000/FP-001, Canadian Forces Aerospace Shape Doctrine)


Effective aerospace operations require a command and control framework and processes that are dynamic and adaptable to the specific needs of aerospace operations. Although variations may exist in the command and control (C2) of aerospace assets within a nation, alliance, or coalition, key fundamentals will remain and guide the delivery of kinetic and non-kinetic effects during aerospace Shape activities at home and abroad. This chapter is not intended to delve deeply into all aspects of domestic and expeditionary aerospace C2 but, rather, will focus on those aspects directly linked to Shape. The overarching Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) C2 structure, definitions, and processes are found in B-GA-401-000/FP-001, Canadian Forces Aerospace Command Doctrine.


Past and recent conflicts have clearly demonstrated that to best accomplish the mission, aerospace forces must be coordinated and directed at the operational level by a single air commander. This individual is normally referred to as the air component commander[1] who, having a theatre-wide perspective, has the authority to assign available forces to best achieve assigned objectives. The air component commander (ACC) is responsible to the joint task force commander (JTFC)[2] for the control—to include planning, direction, prioritization, allocation, synchronization, integration, and deconfliction— of aerospace assets within the joint environment. Normally, the ACC will also be nominated by the JTFC as the theatre airspace control authority (ACA) and air defence commander (ADC). These command appointments ensure that the management and use of the theatre aerospace domain are fully coordinated.

In the Canadian context, Commander 1 Canadian Air Division is designated as the joint force air component commander (JFACC), exercising the duties and responsibilities of an ACC as the senior air advisor to the designated force employment (FE) commander.[3] For each given mission or exercise, whether domestic or deployed, a command structure comprising appropriate subordinate RCAF commanders can be established.[4] The JFACC will often delegate duties and responsibilities for specifically assigned aerospace assets to one of these commanders in order to provide better overall support to the supported commander.

An ACC will be supported by a staff ranging in numbers and capabilities from those assigned to a full-fledged aerospace operations centre (AOC)[5] comprising core elements such as strategy, combat plans, combat/current operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and air mobility to a mission-specific current-operations cell. A wide variety of factors will determine requirements, including the overarching C2 structure, whether the operation is joint or combined, and the number and variety of assigned aerospace assets.

The RCAF has established a single Combined Aerospace Operations Centre (CAOC), which embodies the philosophy of centralized control and decentralized execution for the delivery of aerospace effects.[6] The CAOC team produces operational- and tactical-level direction and guidance on behalf of the JFACC in the form of the air operations directive (AOD), airspace control order (ACO), air tasking order, special instructions (SI), and other products necessary for the control, tasking, coordination, synchronization, and deconfliction of aerospace effects. The CAOC will support the efforts of a delegated ACC to varying degrees depending on the specific mission. For a deployed ACC on international operations, there will normally be an allied air C2 structure that performs the core aerospace operations centre functions, and the involvement of the RCAF CAOC will be minimal. By contrast, the CAOC will be heavily involved where an ACC is assigned to support a JTFC in Canada; this has as much to do with economy of effort as it does with effective C2.

The dynamic nature of aerospace C2 requires the establishment of support facilities with active sensors, data feeds, and communication links that allow control to be exercised over a given portion of airspace. When linked into a broader network, these facilities, often supplemented by airborne assets, help provide a common operating picture which is used by the commander to render dynamic aerospace management decisions and provide mission-critical control of aerospace assets for threat response, integration of fires and effects, and safe separation of aircraft. The complexity of this network is determined by the requirements of the operation and the desired level of control and can range from procedural arrangements with regular voice reporting to complete radar coverage of an area and live-video downlinks.

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Assigning aerospace forces to operations is a shared responsibility between the JTFC and the component commanders (CC).[7] Aerospace capability is apportioned, allocated, tasked, and retasked based upon priorities set by the joint and supported commanders. The JTFC sets the theatre priorities and articulates intent and desired end state in the form of a joint coordination order (JCO). The JTFC also assigns missions to their subordinate CCs. The component commanders (land [LCC], maritime [MCC] and special operations [SOCC]) carry out their estimates and then request aerospace (among other) resources to support their mission objectives.

The ACC will articulate the total available aerospace Shape capabilities to the JTFC. This takes into account all support and operational factors and represents 100 per cent of the available air effort for the day. The JTFC will then apportion aerospace capability (often expressed as a percentage of total effort) to their component commanders based upon the theatre priorities and their assigned tasks and aerospace requests. The respective CC will then be allocated aerospace support based on their missions and objectives.

In the case of support to the land component, for example, the LCC will determine and declare their main effort and priorities and will then allocate aerospace support (based on the JTFC apportionment) to their subordinate manoeuvre elements requesting and desiring aerospace support. The ACC will then assign tasks through the air planning staff and air tasking order cycle; aerospace assets will be tasked to support specific operations, objectives, and/or surface manoeuvre elements. Aerospace units will then undertake detailed planning and liaison with supported units.

This process does not normally apply to either tactical aviation or maritime helicopter (MH) assets where there will be little to no detailed involvement by the ACC’s air planning staff in the development of missions. These assets generally operate under the operational control (OPCON) of the supported commanders and, as such, receive their detailed direction from the land or maritime planning staffs.

Inside a certain time frame (varying by theatre) any changes to the pre-planned and tasked aerospace support become immediate requests. Aerospace assets may be re-allocated by the ACC first, based upon theatre priorities set by the JTFC, and then on mission priorities established by the supported CC.

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The JFACC (or assigned ACC) plans and executes aerospace operations based on JTFC guidance and objectives. As such, every phase of a campaign will see changes to the level and focus of the JFACC activities. Early in any air campaign, the JFACC will ensure that aerospace forces acquire and maintain the required freedom of action before looking to fully support the target nominations of other CCs. To accomplish this, the JFACC must initially focus targeting activities so as to achieve the desired level of control of the air, ideally gaining air supremacy or air superiority. This normally involves offensive counter-air operations (OCA) aimed at destroying, degrading, or disrupting adversary aircraft and missile threats. In an allied context, aerospace assets and weapons systems owned by the other components may also be tasked to support the JFACC in establishing and maintaining the required level of control of the air. As a joint campaign progresses, the joint prioritized target list (JPTL) will show a shift in targeting priorities as reflected in the JTFC joint air apportionment decisions contained within the JCO.

As the subject matter expert on air operations, the ACC contributes to the JCO by providing the JTFC with a draft air plan, including recommendations on air asset apportionment and targeting. After the JTFC approves these recommendations and the JCO is released, the JFACC will publish an AOD which provides the intermediate level of detail required by air planners to service missions, tasks, and targets in accordance with JTFC guidance. The AOD may be published weekly or on a more frequent basis, even daily, if required. The eventual final products prepared by ACC planners are the air tasking order (ATO), the ACO, and SI. These products provide the tasking and supporting information required by aerospace forces of all components to plan air missions and tasks, enabling the efficient and coordinated use of all assets and airspace to accomplish JTFC objectives.

As previously mentioned, the AOD translates higher-level guidance into the tactical-level instructions required for mission accomplishment. While the JCO contains overall apportionment recommendations based on a thorough strategy-to-task analysis, the AOD provides further detail and normally contains the following:

  1. JTFC direction, guidance and apportionment decisions. Apportionment (see example in Figure 5-1) can be expressed in terms of geographic area, percentage, priority, or weight of effort. The scope of apportionment guidance would include activities such as defensive counter-air operation (DCA), offensive counter-air operation (OCA), close air support (CAS), air interdiction (AI), and antisurface warfare (ASUW). Note that apportionment normally only applies to multi-role aircraft, as single-role aircraft will be automatically assigned their only role;
The figure illustrates possible apportionment recommendations. The figure is a pie chart with a box in the centre of the pie showing a total of 475 sorties. The breakdown of these sorties is shown as four pie slices listed clockwise, starting at top right: 100 for counter-air, 125 for support to joint forces land component command, 200 for air interdiction / deliberate targeting, and 50 for support joint forces maritime component command. End of figure 5-1.

Figure 5-1: Example of apportionment


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  1. air campaign priorities and objectives;
  2. guidance on the desired effects to be achieved in the AOD period;
  3. list of available aerospace resources available, broken down daily if the AOD period covers multiple days. This is often referred to as the resource allocation (RESALOC);
  4. deliberate and dynamic targeting guidance including JFACC targeting priorities;
  5. command and control guidance; and
  6. operational assessment to include data collection priorities.

The air tasking cycle provides a repetitive process for the planning, coordination, allocation, and tasking of aerospace missions in support of JTFC and ACC objectives. A relatively short cycle has the advantages of being able to accommodate a changing tactical situation and requests from other CCs as well as focus targeting efforts on supporting operational requirements. As depicted in Figure 5-2[8], the JFACC air tasking cycle is comprised of six interrelated steps: objectives, effects and guidance; target development and weaponeering; capabilities analysis (allocation of assets); air tasking order (ATO) production and dissemination; execution planning and force execution; and assessment. Each step includes and is influenced by joint targeting activities. Close liaison and early coordination between ACC planners and any supported components are critical to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the air campaign.


The figure illustrates the air tasking cycle. The six interrelated steps of the cycle are listed in an inner ring. They are: objectives, effects, and guidance; target development and weaponeering; capabilities analysis; air tasking order production and dissemination; execution planning and force execution; and assessment. At the top of the figure are squares for contingency planning and crisis action planning, which have arrows leading from them into a campaign planning box at the top of an outer ring, where equally spaced around this ring are the words plan, task, execute, and assess. End of figure 5-2.

Figure 5-2. Air tasking cycle


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The air tasking cycle begins with a JFACC staff review of JFACC objectives, apportionment and targeting guidance (all are in the AOD), and an assessment of the results (positive or negative) of previous aerospace activities. Specific targets drawn from the ACC’s prioritized target list (PTL)[9] are then matched with all the capabilities/forces made available to the JFACC for the given ATO day. The full joint cycle from JTFC guidance to the end of ATO execution is normally 72 hours, with planning beginning 48 hours prior to the ATO execution period of 24 hours. At any given time, there will be three ATOs in various stages of maturity: the ATO in progress, the ATO nearing planning completion, and the ATO about to start planning. The described ATO production cycle can be tailored depending on the operational situation. For example, the standard 72-hour cycle could be shortened to 48 hours or less to allow for better targeting flexibility in a rapidly evolving campaign. Equally, the cycle can be extended, as depicted in Figure 5-3. Note that an ATO can (and should) include air missions operating under the OPCON of other component commanders; this provides crucial visibility to assist with overall coordination and deconfliction within the theatre of operations.[10]

The figure illustrates the daily air tasking order battle rhythm, based on a 96-hour cycle. The main section of the figure is a grid, with the X axis divided into four parts denoting Day 3, Day 2, Day 1 and D-Day in the battle rhythm, with each day divided into a.m. and p.m. The Y axis denotes the four stages of air tasking order. The number of tasks is lowest on the furthest day (Day 3) out from D-Day, and progressively increases until D-Day, when all air tasking orders are fully engaged. Located above the grid are seven circles indicating the tasks ongoing as part of the battle rhythm. Moving downward from left to right, the circles are: assessment; objectives, effects, guidance; target development; weaponeering and allocation; air tasking order production; execution planning and force execution; and then a second assessment circle that is level with the original left-hand assessment circle. End of figure 5-3.

Figure 5 3. Daily ATO battle rhythm (example is a 96-hour cycle)


During operations (including both routine domestic and international operations) the RCAF CAOC employs a cycle that differs somewhat from that described above. The production of the joint air operations plan (JAOP), AOD, master air action plan (MAAP), ACO, and ATO follow a different timeline that varies from quarterly to weekly. For specific missions and exercises the JFACC will modify the CAOC battle rhythm (see Figure 5-3[11]) and apply an air tasking cycle that meets the operational requirements of the supported FE commander.

As mentioned earlier in the apportionment and allocation discussion regarding tactical aviation or MH assets, there remains a requirement for the respective staffs to ensure that the ATO is as accurate as possible, but in the case of these assets in particular, the available information may well be limited to aircraft type, call sign and identification, friend or foe (IFF) code as well as the general time frame of the mission. In these cases, the ATO is as much an overall situational awareness tool as it is a tasking mechanism, aimed at enhancing airspace coordination and safety between airborne aerospace users.

Canadian aerospace assets, once deployed on international operations, will normally contribute to and be tasked via an entirely separate ATO process and cycle under the OPCON of a combined joint task force / combined joint force air component commander (CJFACC).

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Airmen and airwomen have arguably moved faster than others in the military to adopt effects-based concepts, principally in the form of effects-based targeting. This stems partly from a different perspective which predisposes them to view the entire battlespace functionally, as opposed to geographically. This functional perspective sees the battlespace as a whole, closer to the viewpoint of the JTFC than a surface force commander, who generally fights the war in a clearly delineated area, with boundaries separating one area from that of other surface commanders. As a natural extension of this perspective, airmen and airwomen often question how actions in one part of the battlespace are linked with, and affected by, actions elsewhere. For instance, they have been more inclined to see the possibility of operational and strategic outcomes as the result of individual tactical actions, and strategic attack is a prime example of tactical actions leading to strategic outcomes.

A target is any object or behaviour of an adversary designated for engagement by friendly forces. A target may be engaged in a variety of ways and either kinetically or non-kinetically. The targeting process identifies targets, analyses their applicability and vulnerabilities, and then matches Shape capabilities to the desired effects for the target. Targeting can be conducted deliberately through a well-defined joint targeting cycle or dynamically in the face of short-notice or rapidly changing circumstances. Dynamic targeting, in particular, has benefited significantly from recent technological advances, enabling commanders to respond more quickly and efficiently while exerting an unprecedented degree of control over effects.

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The joint targeting cycle is a crucial element of the air tasking cycle. It is an iterative process involving intelligence collection and assessment; target nomination, development and prioritization; collateral damage estimation (CDE); rules of engagement (ROE) /legal/political litmus tests; and post-attack battle damage assessment (BDA). Potential targets are identified, developed, and then nominated to a joint targeting working group (JTWG) that rigorously reviews each nomination for its applicability, legality, and payoff. Those nominated targets approved by the JTWG are then passed upward and reviewed/authorized by the JTFC. Targets approved by the JTFC are then added to the JPTL and apportioned to a CC for inclusion into that CC’s prioritized target list (PTL) and eventual prosecution. Both the JPTL and CC PTLs are living documents with targets being added/ deleted almost daily. Targets prosecuted are not normally removed from these lists until the desired level of effect has been confirmed by intelligence means (suitable BDA, etc.).

ACC staff have clearly defined roles and responsibilities within the joint targeting cycle. Specifically within an air component, the guidance, apportionment, and targeting (GAT) cell (a component of the combat plans division) is responsible for:

  1. screening and selecting targets for development that meet the objectives of the JTFC and the JFACC;
  2. prioritizing those targets and identifying the desired effects to be achieved;
  3. quantifying expected results of lethal and non-lethal weapons employed against those targets (weaponeering). All presented targets will include aim points, munitions and fusing information as well as CDE;
  4. collating these target nominations and presenting them to the JTWG; and
  5. refining the JTFC approved JPTL targets into the ACC’s PTL.

With the current PTL in hand, the JFACC’s GAT team considers which targets best meet JTFC and ACC guidance and intent for the following ATO cycle. Accordingly, on a daily basis, GAT staff will provide these targets and a list of available air assets to members of the MAAP branch who then assemble the ATO/ACO/SI based on the established ACC battle rhythm and guidance contained in the AOD. All targets listed in an ATO are considered deliberate targets, as they have been planned and scheduled.

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Dynamic targets are those targets that were not detected, located, or selected for action in time to be included in an ATO (i.e., dynamic targets are those handled "on the fly" by the CAOC). While the timeline associated with dynamic targeting is compressed when compared to that of deliberate targeting, compression does not imply reduced rigour or the omission of steps. Ultimately, dynamic targets are still targets; their nomination, development, execution, and assessment still takes place within the larger framework of the targeting and tasking cycles.

Closely associated with dynamic targets are time sensitive targets (TSTs), which are those targets requiring immediate response once detected or located because they pose a danger to friendly forces or they are highly lucrative fleeting targets of opportunity.

Dynamic targets have one thing in common: they are time-sensitive to some degree and/or have increased priority due to changing circumstances within the battlespace. Some targeting windows of opportunity will be fleeting and thus require near-immediate prosecution if the targets are to be prosecuted at all. The effective and timely prosecution of dynamic targets requires stringent procedures in order to act quickly upon the receipt of intelligence and achieve a targeting solution. Recent operations demonstrate that this compressed decision cycle is best handled through a specialized sub-process known as the dynamic targeting procedure; a process[12] which usually takes place within the CAOC.

Seen from the larger air tasking cycle perspective, dynamic targeting takes place within steps five (execution planning and force execution) and six (assessment). It represents the targeting portion of the execution phase of effects-based operations. Throughout a dynamic targeting evolution, it is essential that commanders and CAOC personnel maintain focus on the overarching JTFC objectives and desired effects, as it is easy to become too focused on tactical-level details. Execution must avoid the blind servicing of target sets; targeting must always be guided by strategy, anticipating and adjusting to an adversary’s actions.

Dynamic targeting missions can be planned into the ATO cycle for those areas where dynamic targeting opportunities are highly likely. A good fixed-wing example is the armed reconnaissance task,[13] where fighter aircraft or armed unmanned aircrafts (UAs) are tasked to a defined area at a certain time to prosecute targets of opportunity. Interdiction attack is essentially the same mission type, utilizing rotary-wing aircraft either autonomously or in close coordination with CAOC staff utilizing the dynamic targeting procedure previously discussed. Fixed-wing assets often require final authorization for engagement, while rotary-wing assets often operate autonomously and may already have sufficient authority via their delegated ROE to permit engagement.

Dynamic targets can be categorized as follows:[14]

  1. JTFC-approved TST. The JTFC is ultimately responsible for TST prosecution but normally relies upon the CCs for conducting TST operations;
  2. targets that are considered crucial for success of friendly objectives but which are not JTFC-approved TSTs. These are referred to as high pay-off targets;
  3. targets scheduled to be struck on the current ATO, but which have changed status in some way (changed timings or apportionment of assets/weapons); and
  4. other targets that emerge during execution that friendly commanders deem worthy of targeting, prosecution of which will not divert resources from higher priority targets.

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Aerospace ISR operations contribute significantly to the joint targeting cycle. This is true in terms of the ever-increasing ability to provide accurate and timely intelligence information to targeting staff and also in terms of the near real time (NRT) oversight that ISR capabilities afford commanders. The current trend, dominated by the requirement to minimize collateral damage, is that each kinetic mission is normally preceded by a series of ISR missions that serve to refine the target and establish local patterns of life. This is particularly true when targets in urban areas are being considered for attack and when a mix of adversarial combatants and civilians on the ground is expected. This highlights the newfound importance of ISR assets. In recent experience, commanders have found that there are never enough of these critical platforms, and as a result, their tasking and assignment authority is held at a high level within the joint task force (JTF). Currently, the RCAF tasks ISR assets through an operations-driven process. Some of the Canadian Forces's (CF’s) allies, including the United States, are leaning towards a more intelligence-driven process, but experience gained in Afghanistan indicates that this approach may be too tactically restrictive, reducing overall responsiveness. The key takeaways for the purposes of this manual are that aerospace ISR assets are critical force enablers and that demand for their services will almost always exceed availability. As a result, these assets must be closely managed and focused on key JTFC priorities and objectives. Aerospace ISR platforms include the CU-170 Heron, CP140 Aurora Block II, CH146 Griffon INGRESS, General Dynamics Avenger, E-3D Sentry, Nimrod R1, and the Sentinel R1.

As mentioned in Chapter 1, ISR missions that prepare the battlespace belong primarily to the aerospace Sense function. Blending of the Sense and Shape functions occurs when the platform conducting the Shape mission is itself equipped with ISR sensors or where it is supported by an ISR asset in real or near real-time. This can occur on a planned basis or dynamically in reaction to a target of opportunity.

An example of this overlap during a planned mission would be an attack on a critical industrial site. The local pattern of life will be established well in advance in order to time the attack to minimize collateral damage (Sense). ISR support will then also be required just prior to the attack in order to enable the commander to provide the final attack authorization (Shape). Post-attack, ISR assets would then loiter or be tasked to conduct a BDA in order to determine follow-on/re-attack requirements (Sense and/or Shape). A SCAR task in this case could provide a more robust C2 interface to coordinate multiple aircraft, detect (and possibly attack) targets, neutralize enemy air defences, and provide BDA. These missions involve ISR-equipped assets providing NRT targeting information and coordination to airborne strike packages. They can also involve the embedding of subject matter expert liaison officers on the ISR aircraft, whose duties can range from simply providing advice to assuming a role similar to that of a forward air controller (airborne) (FAC[A]) / joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) role.[15] These individuals[16] have demonstrated their worth in strengthening and simplifying the commander-sensor-shooter link and have helped underscore the benefits of manned ISR assets in dynamic situations.

An example of a purely dynamic situation would be that of an advancing ground unit coming into contact and requesting aerial fire support. A mix of armed UA and CAS fighters would be tasked to the area to provide overwatch, locate, and ultimately engage an adversary’s positions. A maritime example of a dynamic situation would be an long-range patrol aircraft (LRPA) tasked with barrier operations in front of a surface force locating and tracking an adversarial submarine. Depending on ROE and the level of threat this submarine posed to the force, the MCC could release the aircraft to engage the submarine.

Additional detail regarding aerospace targeting information, definitions, and processes can be found in the following publications: Canadian Forces Joint Publication 3-9 (CFJP 3-9), Joint Targeting;[17] NATO Allied Joint Publication 3.9 (AJP-3.9), Allied Joint Doctrine for Joint Targeting; and NATO Allied Command Operations Directive (AD) 80-70, Joint Targeting and Synchronization in ACO.

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Vignette 13: Not Since WWII. Operation MOBILE was the CF participation in Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR (OUP), the UN-authorized, NATO-led effort to impose an arms embargo and a no-fly zone on Libya to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas. Task Force Libeccio was the air component of Op MOBILE and comprised the task force HQ based in Naples, Italy; the air component coordination element based in Poggio-Renatico, Italy; and the Sicily Air Wing based out of two locations in Sicily, Italy. The Sicily Air Wing was made up of four air operations flights and two close support flights: a CP140 flight based at Sigonella, Sicily, and a CF188 flight, a CC 150T flight, a CC130J flight, an operational support flight and a mission support flight, all based at Trapani-Birgi, Sicily. A mission over Libya on 5 October 2011 provided an opportunity to have Canadian aircraft engaged in every phase of a mission.

During the last month of operations over Libya, Gaddafi’s forces had retrograded into his last remaining strongholds, including Sirte, Al Fuqaha, and Bani Walid. On this particular day, the combined force air component commander (CFACC) ordered a concerted effort to reduce the fighting effectiveness of Gaddafi’s forces in the Bani Walid area. Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were not available due to high winds at their base in Sigonella, so the Canadian CP140 was approved to surge to two sorties to cover the requirement for ISR support. The CP140 crews had only very recently been approved to conduct the strike coordination and reconnaissance – coordinator (SCAR-C) mission. Earlier on during OUP, the aircraft was employed solely in support of the maritime force compiling the RMP in the embargo zone. After demonstrating a combination of unique capabilities and a superior ISR data product, that Aurora’s role was expanded to coastal patrols that allowed the crew to capture inland imagery of Libya’s coastline, highways, command and control centres, and then finally to missions directly over Libyan territory. While conducting these missions, Aurora crews also carried out other critical functions such as providing a visible presence along the coast and conducting broadcasts addressed to the Libyan people.

The SCAR-C mission was used extensively during the Libyan campaign, with long endurance ISR platforms such as UAs and LRPA including United States Navy (USN) P-3s, French Atlantiques, and Canadian CP140s providing ISR coverage prior to and during the strike missions. For the most part, the fighters had a fairly short duration on station, and the ISR aircraft were able to confirm targets, conduct pattern of life assessments to ensure no civilians were in the target area, and then guide the fighters to their targets. The addition of a United Kingdom (UK) fires support team to the CP140 crew, to act as the JTAC, significantly increased the overall effectiveness and capability of the aircraft. The role of this team was to provide positive identification of the target, conduct the collateral damage estimates, and communicate directly with the fighter aircraft attacking the target. Their presence on-board the aircraft shortened the commander-sensor-shooter link, improving the overall situational awareness of all involved personnel, and minimizing delays in engaging the targets.

At the commencement of the 5 Oct mission, the CP140s were conducting ISR over Bani Walid. Canadian CF188s took off from Trapani-Birgi Airfield, refueled from their CC150T Airbus tanker, and made their way to the target area. They were then guided onto their targets by the CP140 crew, striking successfully with joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs), an all-weather "smart" bomb. Over the course of the mission, a total of 14 OUP fighters struck several targets with excellent effect. This mission demonstrated for the first time since WWII that the RCAF could bring the whole package to the fight. At the commander’s update briefing the next morning, the CFACC thanked the Canadian team for their support, for providing the necessary eyes on target, and for the overall success of the mission.[18]

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A robust and dynamic aerospace C2 capability allows the commander to retain firm control of aerospace forces while enabling dynamic employment, tasking, and retasking of aerospace capabilities to meet the competing needs of the supported commanders. Aerospace C2 operates under the fundamentals of centralized control and decentralized execution and is structured accordingly. Aerospace operations require sufficient flexibility to respond to rapidly emerging and dynamic changes to the battlespace. To achieve this flexibility, aerospace commanders operate within a cycle known as the air tasking cycle.

The air tasking cycle enables centralized control of theatre aerospace assets. It generally follows a standard format regardless of the theatre or specific operation but can be adjusted to accommodate the special and distinct needs of every operation. The cycle has six steps: objectives, effects and guidance; target development and weaponeering; capabilities analysis (allocation of assets); ATO production and dissemination; execution planning and force execution; and assessment. Decentralized execution is enabled by establishing flexible procedural rules for transit to and from operating areas and directives governing tactical operations within designated airspace (captured within the ACO). These procedures are promulgated to all aerospace users and operators via theatre aerospace control orders and special instructions.

Aerospace targeting can be conducted deliberately or dynamically. Deliberate targets are those targets planned, scheduled, and embedded within the ATO. Dynamic targets are those targets detected, located, or selected too late to be included into the normal air tasking cycle. While dynamic targeting is normally a reactive mission generated to address a specific pop-up target, dynamic targeting missions can also be included into an ATO (i.e., a strike coordination and reconnaissance (SCAR) task).

Targets are nominated, refined, and considered through a series of staff efforts in order to ensure that they meet JTFC objectives and intent. Current advances in ISR capabilities are allowing targeting to become more dynamic and responsive, while at the same time improving command oversight in a targeting environment that is very unforgiving of collateral damage.

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1. The term "air component commander" can be adapted for different command situations. In a joint environment, the ACC becomes a joint force air component commander (JFACC). In a multi-national operation, a combined force air component commander (CFACC) or combined/joint force air component commander (C/JFACC) can be designated. In all cases, these commanders have, at a minimum, the same responsibilities as an ACC.  (return)

2. In the Canadian context "JTFC" refers to an FE commander or their designated JTFC (e.g., Commander JTF North). (return)

3. These include but are not limited to Commander NORAD, Commander Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and Commander Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). (return)

4. Examples of possible command structures are detailed in B-GA-401-000/FP-001, Canadian Forces Aerospace Command Doctrine. (return)

5. The generic term "air operations centre" is superseded in the Canadian context by a specific organization known as the "aerospace operations centre," with the same abbreviation. (return)

6. Additional details on the Canadian Combined Aerospace Operations Centre (CAOC) concept of operations can be obtained in 1 Canadian Air Division, Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters, Combined Aerospace Operations Centre: Operating Instructions, Volume 3: Concept of Operations (October 1, 2009), CAOC_OI_Vol_1_2_3_Annexes/CAOC_OI_Vol_3_FINAL_1_Oct_09.sflb.ashx (accessed August 20, 2013). (return)

7. There are four standard force components: the air component, land component, maritime component, and special operations task force. Other components may be established depending on the demands of the mission. (return)

8. JIPTL is considered synonymous with JPTL. In NATO context, the use of the term MAAP is shifting to a more inclusive MAOP—master air operations plan. Within the RCAF CAOC, MAAP is defined as master air action plan. (return)

9. A PTL is a target list derived from the JPTL that allocates prioritized targets to individual components. Each CC, therefore, has and maintains its own PTL. (return)

10. For example, the MCC may have OPCON of assigned maritime helicopter forces or the LCC may have OPCON of assigned tactical aviation forces. It is important that these missions be coordinated into a single ATO, produced by the JFACC and the supporting CAOC. In order to not unduly limit tactical freedom, the mission details for these ATO entries will often include only aircraft type, callsign, IFF code, and general timeframe information. The same methodology is used for aircraft assuming ready-launch procedures. (return)

11. USAF AFDD 2-1.9, Targeting, 8 June 2006, Figure 2.4, 28, (accessed August 20, 2013). (return)

12. The dynamic targeting process utilizes a six-step process: find, fix, track, target, engage, and assess (F2T2EA). For additional information on targeting see AJP-3.9, Allied Joint Doctrine for Joint Targeting or NATO Allied Command Operations Directive (AD) 80-70, Joint Synchronisation and Targeting in ACO, 2009. (return)

13. As discussed in Chapter 3, armed reconnaissance is a subordinate task to the AI mission. (return)

14. Each of the four categories of targets specified above is prosecuted via the same dynamic targeting process; they differ only in relative priority. (return)

15. The FAC(A) and/or JTAC label applies only when operating in close proximity to friendly forces. SCAR tasks occur deeper into adversary territory where coordination with friendly ground forces is not a consideration. (return)

16. The individual that is responsible for directing all aircraft in the specified area for the associated SCAR mission may be referred to as the SCAR coordinator (SCAR-C). (return)

17. CFJP 3-9 was still in study draft form at the time this publication was promulgated. (return)

18. Information provided by Brigadier-General Derek Joyce, Commander Task Force Libbecio, and by Captain Jill Strelieff, Sicily Air Wing Public Affairs Officer. (return)

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