A Proposal for Homeland-Defense Organization

By Poynor, D. Robert | Aerospace Power Journal, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

A Proposal for Homeland-Defense Organization


Poynor, D. Robert, Aerospace Power Journal


Vortices

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. …

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