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Command and Control: How do YOU fit in?

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Command and control, or C2, has been practiced by military organizations for thousands of years and is the cornerstone of effective military operations. Command and control gives all of our military activities purpose and direction. C2 can be a great force multiplier if exercised effectively, but what exactly is C2?

The standard definition for command and control is "the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commander over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of the mission. C2 functions are performed through an arrangement of personnel, equipment, communications, facilities, and procedures employed by a commander in planning, directing, coordinating and controlling forces and operations in the accomplishment of the mission."

From the definition, there are a lot of moving pieces to C2. But what does that mean to the average Airman? Being in a military organization it should mean a lot to because YOU are the central piece of the command and control puzzle. You are the forces that your commander(s) leads to accomplish the mission. You are the forces who follow orders, develop and carry out procedures, and use various types of equipment, facilities and systems to accomplish the mission.

Never take what you do in the Air Force for granted. Your primary duties contribute towards the success of your organization accomplishing its mission, which in turn feeds into the higher organization accomplishing the overall mission.

You may be wondering why I am not writing specifically about the base command post. That's because in many instances when the subject of command and control comes up (in the generic sense), people automatically think about or refer to the command post. That's partly a good thing; the command post is a C2 node for the installation. However, this shows an incomplete understanding of command and control.

Yes, there are some C2 functions that only a certified command post controller is authorized to carry out, but command and control is so much bigger than one organizational entity. Ask yourself how much interaction you have with the installation command post. For the vast majority of you the answer is not much, not often or not at all. Now ask yourself how much interaction you have with your section chief, flight commander or squadron commander and I'm sure the answer for the vast majority of Airman will be often, a lot or even too much.

For example, the command post, base operations, the chain of command, and other control centers are all organizations, systems, facilities or procedural-based activities that contribute to and are a component of command and control. None of the above can function without YOU.

It is important that you not to discount yourself when you hear the words command and control. Everyone has a part to play. The next time you hear command and control think about how you fit into the C2 structure. Command and control is not perfect but fluid with a mix of art and science. Without you accomplishing your primary duties, it does not work at all. And because it is Airmen performing their duties, and perform them extremely well, you contribute to the United States having the finest military command and control system in the world.