Letters to the Editor (RCAF Journal - FALL 2014 - Volume 3, Issue 4)

Alternate Formats

Table of contents

 

Maj March,

First an introduction. My name is Major Dwight Bazinet, and I’m currently posted to Helicopter Operational Testing and Evaluation Flight, 12 Wing Shearwater, as the Tech-Lead for Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Project 91, a prototype development to ensure operational relevance of the Sea King until retirement, while using the Sea King as a lead-in for the Cyclone as much as possible. I have done tours at North American Aerospace Defence Command, notably as a member of the Bi-National Planning Group, and at North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Air-Ground Surveillance (AGS) and J2 Targeting, both of which have given me insight into command and control (C2).

Although correct as far as it goes, the subject article[1] is misleading in its incompleteness. The issue is summed up in the following quote: “It is the responsibility of RCAF leadership at all levels to ensure the message of effective C2 of air power in joint/combined operations is best served by the ACC [air component commander] / AOC [air operations centre] concept.”[2] This very much echoes the views of the United States Air Force, Air Component Command (ACC) Ramstein, the Royal Air Force, etc. but not those of the United States Navy (USN), Maritime Component Command (MCC) Northwood, the Royal Navy and various land components, including Special Operations Component Command (SOCC). C2 as described in the article ignores the issues of coordination with other component commands (CCs) who also have organic air and/or assigned air assets. It is an air-force-centric view of C2 not a joint view.

Within the constraints of domestic operations, C2 as described in the article may function; although from experience, maritime air was much more effective when assigned, in effect, to a maritime air operations centre (MAOC) attached to maritime air group. For major joint operations, C2 as described in the article breaks down. The larger picture was most apparent to me when in NATO AGS and trying to rewrite the C2 part of the concept of operations; ACC Ramstein believed they should always have full C2 but did not understand how to effectively employ AGS as a maritime-surveillance platform, to the point they didn’t even want it to do it.

The misunderstanding of C2 was apparent to me in NATO, where ACC Ramstein did not understand the role of MCC Northwood’s MAOC, that the MAOC did have air assets under control (the NATO maritime-patrol-aircraft pool), and the purpose of the maritime air coordination element (MACE) and land air coordination element (LACE). They also did not understand the role of organic air. At the division level and above, land air assets stay under the C2 of the land commander, and naval air elements stay under the C2 of the naval commander. This is for unity-of-command purposes.

What this also means is that MCC / land component command (LCC) controlled assets can be chopped to the ACC for a given task and duration. Equally, ACC-controlled assets can be chopped to the MCC/LCC in the same way. The air tasking order is not just a way for the ACC to task their assigned assets; it is also a coordination tool with the MCC/LCC (through the MACE to the MAOC and the LACE to land organic air assets) and adjacent theatre ACCs, MCCs and LCCs. SOCC aviation is also dealt with differently, so coordination is required there as well.

The leadership of the RCAF does have to ensure knowledge of the ACC / combined air operations centre (COAC) concept, but they also need to understand and impart how the other CCs fight their battle, including how they use air power.

Respectively,

Major Dwight Bazinet

 

Abbreviations

ACC―air component commander / air component command
AGS―Air-Ground Surveillance
C2―command and control
CC―component command
LACE―land air coordination element
LCC―land component command
MACE―maritime air coordination element
MAOC―maritime air operations centre
MCC―maritime component command
NATO―North Atlantic Treaty Organization
RCAF―Royal Canadian Air Force
SOCC―Special Operations Component Command

Notes

1. Major Pux Barnes, “The JFACC and the CAOC-Centric RCAF: Considerations for the Employment of Air Power in Joint Operations,” Royal Canadian Air Force Journal 3, no. 3 (Summer 2014).  (return)

2. Major Pux Barnes, “The JFACC and the CAOC-Centric RCAF: Considerations for the Employment of Air Power in Joint Operations,” Royal Canadian Air Force Journal 3, no. 3 (Summer 2014), 18.  (return)

 

Table of contents

Date modified: