The terrible thing about terrorism is that ultimately it destroys those who practice it. Slowly but surely, as they try to extinguish life in others, the light within them dies.
-Terry Waite, 1992
OVER A YEAR ago, a news article described congressional testimony about homeland defense and national missile defense (NMD). After discussion of the Army's NMD system and some Navy proposals for shipborne missile interceptors, the senior Air Force official present fielded a question about Air Force initiatives. His response, something akin to "We have nothing to offer in this mission area at this moment," was a missed opportunity. The Air Force does indeed have something to bring to this discussion-the heretofore undiscussed piece that ties it all together. So far, NMD discussions have centered only on systems, which by themselves are merely tactical-level discussions. What they will need to work together effectively at the operational level-the truly visionary piece-is organization. When it comes to efficient joint organization, the Air Force is the only service that advocates and employs a proven, truly joint model based on proven doctrinal principles about joint war-fighting organization that have been accepted within the overseas regional theaters.
To those familiar with the idea of a revolution in military affairs (RMA), organization is one of the three critical pieces to realizing an RMA (the other two being technology and doctrine). The challenge to implementing NMD and other emerging military homeland-defense issues lies in untangling the unified and combined commands that currently exercise pieces of the puzzle. These commands-North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), US Space Command (USSPACECOM), and US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), and, to a lesser degree, US joint Forces Command (USJFCOM)-are stovepiped, legacy organizations, a binning of missions made necessary by the technological limitations of another era. We have the organizational doctrine to do much better.
A key role of doctrine is to provide a baseline for intelligent decisions about how to operate and organize, and current joint doctrine provides an excellent blueprint for building a joint organization along proven lines. The objective joint organization should have a single joint force commander supported by functional component commanders-air, land, and maritime component commanders. The functional component structure, seen in many recent joint operations, can cut across service lines to obtain unity of effort and unity of command. This becomes important in a homeland context because several of the issues in play, and their technical solutions, involve aerospace missions. To explain how this model could work for homeland defense, one must first recap how this structure works in the regional context.
Within a regional theater, the joint force air component commander (JFACC), in addition to commanding all aerospace missions, also normally serves as the area air defense commander (AADC). With this second responsibility, the JFACC can cut across service lines to integrate defensive counterair operations throughout the theater, utilizing air-breathing interceptors, friendly surface-to-air missiles, and, eventually, airborne lasers. If we expand this vision to a homeland-defense construct, a "homeland JFACC" would exercise control over fighter interceptors currently under NORAD as well as any ground- or sea-based interceptors-antiair or antimissile. Naturally, to enable this function, the JFACC also would require the requisite command authority over missile and early warning systems. So far, this homeland JFACC construct fits within the existing NORAD construct.
But this analogy is still not complete. In a regional theater, the JFACC also normally is the supported commander for offensive missions such as strategic attack and theaterwide interdiction. Together with his or her AADC hat, the JFACC thus has the means to carry out both the offensive and defensive aspects of the counterair function across the theater. On the homeland level, however, the nation's long-range offensive forces are vested in another unified command, USSTRATCOM, whose forces currently are arrayed in a series of service-specific, single-purpose task forces-one each for bombers, tankers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), command and control (C2), reconnaissance, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) in the Pacific, and SLBMs in the Atlantic. Separate task forces are perfectly allowable under current joint doctrine, but such a concept is arguably stovepiped and cumbersome. If one is to fully transfer the JFACC analogy to the homeland, the homeland JFACC should also command the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP).
If organization is based on proven doctrinal foundations, then doctrine suggests a new organization for homeland defense. Under this joint command, appropriately led by a commander in chief, a homeland JFACC would oversee the missile-warning activities currently performed by USSPACECOM, the airborne threat warning and air-breathing interceptors currently run under NORAD, and the intercontinental nuclear response currently performed by USSTRATCOM. If it comes on-line, NMD also would naturally align under the JFACC. Further into the future, the JFACC might also command any antisatellite forces as well, thus rounding out the full counterair (or might it be "counteraerospace"?) function. If one takes this joint construct to its logical conclusion, a joint force maritime component commander (JFMCC) would oversee maritime defensive operations, including port security. He or she would command the day-to-day operation of the Navy's ballistic-missile submarine fleets in the Pacific and Atlantic (execution, however, would fall under the JFACC as aerospace operations), as well as any shipborne NMD interceptors currently under discussion. Similarly, activities associated with land defense, civil support, and consequence management within the continental United States (CONUS), currently assigned to USJFCOM, might logically rest under a joint force land component commander UnCC).
Similarly, various internal disaster-response efforts, such as flood relief or fighting forest fires, might find a more logical plug-in within a homeland command in the form of ad hoc joint task forces, creating recognizable chains of authority, which become especially important when Guard and Reserve forces activate. Military support to the nation's counterdrug effort, currently spread across three unified commands within the Western Hemisphere, is also a candidate for consolidation within a new homeland command. Finally, homeland-level Computer Network Operations might find a more logical home within this new, single war-fighting command.
Consolidation of the offensive element is perhaps the most controversial issue, but it bears reexamination now. Until just a few years ago, we could not match homeland offense with homeland defense. The SIOP was
simply too massive to support truly dynamic battle management. It had too many warheads and targets to cover, and C^sup 2^ proved inadequate. Early C^sup ^2 estimates for the Strategic Defense Initiative, with its numerous orbiting sensors and interceptors, were similarly massive. Thus, the scale of the offensive and defensive elements created an insurmountable C^sup 2^ problem that resisted integration. But that is not the case today. The SIOP's target set is smaller, as is the number of weapons. We now have the computational capability for dynamic planning and battle management, and we have demonstrably better warning and overall C^sup 2^. The Cold War separation of offense (USSTRATCOM), defense (NORAD), and warning (vested in USSPACECOM), based upon past technological limitations, is no longer necessary. Furthermore, recent discussions of CONUS-based conventional strike, such as the Air Force's Global Strike Task Force, would logically nest in this new command.
Intentionally absent from this discussion is any restructure of the services' CONUS-based commands in their roles as force providers. If a new, unified "homeland command" is established, Air Combat Command and Air Force Space Command [AFSPACECOM] might be restructured to provide a better alignment. There is even room within a new homelandcommand model for AFSPACECOM to better fulfill its recent congressional designation as the lead for all military space. If redesignated as a specified command, it could fulfill its worldwide responsibilities for space, while acting as a supporting command to the homeland command. With an attached joint-planning element, similar to the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff colocated with Strategic Air Command, AFSPACECOM could then reasonably subsume USSPACECOM, thus reducing staff overhead and duplication of effort.
This is not a trivial proposal; it constitutes a massive restructuring of several major unified commands. USSPACECOM, USSTRATCOM, and NORAD as we currently know them would disappear, with large pieces taken over by a new, unified command. USJFCOM would surrender its role in civil support and domestic consequence management and focus on joint training and experimentation; AFSPACECOM might evolve into a specified command. Finally, a homeland command, laid out as described, would be more recognizable to the overseas commands and would help establish clearer supporting/supported relationships between a single CONUS war fighter and overseas activities. But perhaps the time is right. Over the last decade, the services have developed war-fighting organizational principles and have codified them in existing joint doctrine. It's never too late to take another look at long-standing organizations and refit them with a proven organization. Congress is always interested in reducing headquarters staffs and eliminating perceived duplication, so such a consolidation might win approval on that front.
This suggestion is based on proven doctrine-specifically, principles about a joint war-fighting organization that overseas regional theaters have accepted. By comparison, USSPACECOM, NORAD, and USSTRATCOM have remained rooted in older organizational paradigms, dictated largely by the limitations of Cold War-era technologies. It is time to bring these stovepiped commands into the twenty-first century. Until September of last year, discussions about homeland defense in general, and NMD in particular, were arcane. Our recent experience now provides the impetus for a fresh look.
The Air Force was the first service to transform itself after the Cold War and the first to break the code about fighting jointly, through the JFACC. Unlike the other services, it has no service-only, "organic" model for
employment. The Air Force expects to be employed jointly, and that's how it trains. Because the bulk of these homeland-defense operations are aerospace operations, it is fitting that the organizational vision be an airman's vision.
Maxwell AFB, Alabama
LT COL D. ROBERT POYNOR, USAF, RETIRED*
*Colonel Poynor is a doctrine analyst at the Air Force Doctrine Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.…