Aerospace Expeditionary Forces1 and 2 Start Up

The Air Force met a significant milestone on Oct.1 in the evolving Expeditionary Aerospace Force concept by activating the first two of 10 Aerospace Expeditionary Forces and an on-call Aerospace Expeditionary Wing.

Units aligned to the AEFs are either deployed handling “steady-state” contingency requirements such as Operations Southern and Northern Watch or remain at home on-call to deploy. As the Air Force transitions to the AEF structure, units drawn from AEFs 1 and 2 will remain deployed or on-call to deploy for the next two months. During the first part of December, units aligned to AEFs 3 and 4 will swap out for a 90-day period, which will be the standard deployment eligibility cycle under the concept.

It’s important to note that the AEF itself does not actually deploy. A good analogy is to think of an AEF as a “bucket of capability.” Within that bucket, you have units operating a cross-section of weapon system capabilities and expeditionary combat support personnel. From these AEFs, aircraft and people will be pulled to cover known steady-state and contingency requirements. Now instead of individual bluesuitters being tasked on multiple occasions to deploy while others are never tasked, units will know when they are vulnerable to deploy, and the task load spread more evenly amongst the force. This process allows the Air Force to more evenly spread taskings across the total force—Active, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

Each of the 10 AEFs are roughly similar in capability and consist of fighter and bomber aircraft from across the Total Force—Active Duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. In addition to the aircraft, the AEFs have about 10,000 to 15,000 expeditionary combat support personnel assigned to unit tasking codes that are aligned under the AEFs. That doesn’t mean that all 10,000 people are going to deploy, the Air Force will only deploy those people needed to meet the contingency requirement.

In addition to the AEFs, the 4th Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., began a 60-day on-call period to handle any pop-up or emergency crisis. In December the 366th Wing at Mountain Home, Idaho will swap out with them.

The EAF concept was brought about as a result of several factors: increased small-scale contingency global taskings, a giant reduction in force and an older Air Force structure designed to contain communism during the Cold War. These led to shortfalls in some capabilities, and brought an excessive tempo for some Air Force people. With that in mind, Air Force leaders designed EAF with the following objectives:

While beginning the transition period, the Air Force expects to learn a lot during the first couple of rotations.

— courtesy EAF Implementation Office