Reclaiming the Initiative: Organizing the Air Force for Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce the release of its latest Mitchell Forum paper, Reclaiming the Initiative: Organizing the Air Force for Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power, by Col Tom Ruby, USAF (Ret.). Ruby, a veteran intelligence officer and former chief of ISR doctrine, believes the US Air Force should act now to reorient its organization and structure to better prepare for the wars of the future, or risk becoming outmoded. He suggests the service should embrace sweeping reform of its fundamental structures—its major commands (MAJCOMs), which are the entities responsible for organizing, training, and equipping the service’s forces, from satellite operations to combat aircraft.

But rather than build organizations around domains (air, space, and cyber) or platforms (aircraft, satellites, bombers, and other assets), Ruby argues the service should look to organize along the lines of the three articulated “ends” the US Air Force provides for the defense of the United States of America: Global Vigilance Global Reach, and Global Power. Organizing commands along the lines of platforms and domains demands airmen “use valuable time and resources to explain a construct that is not helpful in presenting, planning, tasking, and commanding airpower,” he writes.

With limited exceptions for missions such as training or sustainment activities, the service should move to reorganize into three distinct major commands: US Air Force Global Power Command, Global Reach Command, and Global Vigilance Command, instead of domain and function-based organizations. By doing so, Ruby argues, the Air Force could achieve long lasting results for the service’s future by “allowing it to cease thinking in terms of platforms and domains, and instead think about capabilities to achieve effects.” But the Air Force should not wait, as less desirable changes could be foisted on the service from outside. Embracing this reorganization concept would help the Air Force “reclaim its place as the service most agile in thought, not only in capability.”

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