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Air Force operational C2 advisors provide more than just advice

  • Published
  • By Bill Murphey
  • 705th Training Squadron

The U.S. Air Force’s senior advisors in the Operational Command Training Program, or OCTP, had a busy 2021, connecting the strategic-level Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, concept to operational-level command and control organizations.

Chartered in 2000 by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the OCTP is the USAF’s senior operational-level C2 training program, operating under the 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and consists of both highly qualified expert-senior mentors and operational C2 senior advisors.  The OCTP team is made up of graduated C2 leaders who provide operational-level commanders with subject matter expertise, confidential peer-level advice, mentoring, training, and performance feedback.

Throughout the year, the senior advisors have been active in multiple operational C2 exercises, including Pacific Fury, Pacific Sentry, BLUE FLAG, Austere Challenge, Northern Edge, Air and Missile Defense, Global Thunder, training events in South Korea, and a host of other war games, planning conferences, and academic events. 

In addition, the team provided just-in-time academics to Numbered Air Forces, supported a major command’s organizational design review, and participated in a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief Joint Task Force.

“This team represents some of the best air component C2 mentors and advisors in the Air Force that bring decades of experience to Airmen that plan and execute at the operational level of war,” said Col. Adam Shelton, 505th Test and Training Group commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida. “However, this interaction is also value added to the wing by bringing back field observations to enhance both training and technology developments for the evolution of C2.” 

Just-in-Time Training

As a result of their continuous relationship with Air Forces Northern, or AFNORTH, supporting various theater exercises, including Ardent Sentry and Vigilant Shield, the AFNORTH training team requested senior advisor assistance in developing and presenting just-in-time training covering the Joint Planning Process for Air, or JPPA.

A team of three senior advisors built and presented two 2-day, customized programs of academics and vignettes that covered a range of topics from command relationships, mission analysis, and course of action development and analysis. The purpose of the event was to instill a ‘culture of planning’ with over 50 personnel from the AFNORTH and 601st Air Operations Center staffs in attendance.

The academic event allowed attendees to apply open discussion, thought and assessment to each JPPA step a though table-top vignette scenario supported by doctrinal resources, enabling the staff to come away with a better understanding of joint planning and the myriad of considerations involved.

Operational Planning Teams

Air Forces Southern, or AFSOUTH, requested the OCTP’s senior advisors support for an Operational Planning Team, or OPT.  AFSOUTH was exploring their internal organization design to discern if a realignment of the air component staff would result in better agility for competition with adversaries in their area of responsibility.

The senior advisor team had already been a part of ongoing reorganization efforts across Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Air Forces in Europe.  Thus, the three senior advisors were able to share the lessons from other realignment efforts to assist the OPT in the development and refinement of potential options. The senior advisors provided recommendations throughout the event and assisted in crafting and presenting the courses of action presented to the AFSOUTH commander.

Real-time JTF Support

On August 14, 2021, the southwest region of Haiti was hit with a 7.2 earthquake that killed over 2,200 people and displaced more than 150,000 Haitians. Within hours, U.S. Southern Command, or USSOUTHCOM, appointed JTF-Haiti at Special Operations Command-South, or SOCSOUTH, to lead the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief effort on the Caribbean island.

As the air component for USSOUTHCOM, AFSOUTH activated their battlestaff and deployed a Joint Air Component Coordination Element, or JACCE, to integrate into the JTF-Haiti staff. Given the previous relationship between AFSOUTH and OCTP, AFSOUTH leadership requested support from OCTP’s senior advisors. While normally operating as advisors to operational C2 leaders in an over-the-shoulder capacity, two senior advisors deployed to Homestead, Florida, and were seamlessly integrated into the JACCE team, on the Joint Operations Center floor, and into all planning events.

By many accounts, the JTF-Haiti mission was a success for the people of Haiti. The coalition team of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Guardians, Coastguardsmen, and international partners in and around Haiti provided medical evacuations to critical patients and moved over a half million pounds of food, water, medical supplies, and temporary housing supplies to some very remote locations. The thousands of professionals who contributed to this effort were critical to the Haitian people’s efforts to recover from the devastating earthquake.

For the senior advisors, participation in this real-world event will enhance their credibility with training audiences during future exercises, academic lessons, and other training events.

The Road Ahead

Despite the busy 2021 exercise season, the senior advisor team took time to write and publish eight handbooks specifically designed for air component division chiefs, expanded their menu of just-in-time training briefings, and added multiple templates to their OCTP Community of Excellence website.

For the senior advisor team, 2022 looks to be another busy year with almost two dozen Tier 1 and 2 exercises, Agile Combat Employment Lead Wing training events, and more on-site academics.   

As the only USAF team tasked with mentoring all the air component commands, they are well-positioned to be the connective tissue and translator between Headquarters Air Force’s vision for concepts like JADC2 and ACE, and the operational C2 warfighters implementing that guidance.

For more information about the OCTP senior advisors, contact the team at: