Air Force doctrine informs Airmen

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- It is critically important that we as Airmen understand how we contribute to the Air Force Mission to "Deliver sovereign options for the defense of the United States and its Global interests-- To Fly and Fight in Air, Space and Cyberspace."

Every Airman provides a capability that integrates with other capabilities to enable our mission. However, it's difficult to understand how you fit in unless you are familiar with our basic Air and Space Doctrine. In fact, if you're not familiar with our basic doctrine, you cannot perceive how critical our Air Force mission is to the Department of Defense, our country and our allies.

Even worse, you won't know why the Air Force mission is distinctively different than the missions of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. It's really quite simple and straight forward as stated in Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 1-0, "Air and Space Power operates in ways that are fundamentally different from other forms of military power."

The Army and Navy operate in the two-dimensional realms of the ground and the sea. The Air Force adds a third dimension - vertical. By using our distinct air, space and cyberspace capabilities, we exploit the vertical air and space environment and achieve the Joint Force Commander's objectives.

The functions of Air and Space Power, described in AFDD 1, provide our nation with distinct capabilities. For instance, we employ Airlift to quickly move large numbers of joint forces into the theater. From the Berlin Airlift to the massive effort at the beginning of Desert Shield/Storm, our airlifters have provided a unique and unmatched capability to move forces fast. Then, we establish Air Superiority through Counterair/Counterspace capabilities to control air and space throughout the theater of operations. Once we control the air, we leverage Strategic Attack, Counterland and Countersea to quickly and simultaneously strike deep within the enemy's territory, destroying high-value and strategic targets, including enemy leaders, communications systems, logistical support and fielded forces.

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, we referred to this quick and simultaneous attack as "Shock and Awe." In Operations Desert Storm and OIF, we did such a great job of destroying the enemy's capability to fight that our ground forces virtually walked onto an empty battlefield in the early stages of both wars. Throughout the fight, Combat Support protects, supports and sustains all air and space capabilities to accomplish mission objectives across the range of military operations.

It ensures responsive right-sized forces are available to the Joint Force Commander. Information Superiority capabilities are actions taken to influence, affect or defend information, systems and/or decision-making to create effects across the battlefield. The United States Air Force provides these functions in unison with other service components to ensure accomplishment of the Joint Force Commanders' objectives.

We didn't just make this stuff up. Our Air Force capabilities are firmly rooted in more than half a century of doctrine that has been developed by the leading Airmen within our profession. As Airmen, we must be familiar with our doctrine and continue to improve our knowledge of air, space and cyberspace power.

Start by reading AFDD 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, which establishes general guidance for application of air and space capabilities across the full range of military operations. Then move on to AFDD 1-1, Leadership and Force Development and AFDD 2-0, Operations and Organizations.

These and other doctrine publications can be found on the Air Force Doctrine Center Web site: https://www.doctrine.af.mil/.  

In addition to these publications, you can also checkout Doctrine Watch, a series of articles that discusses various doctrinal issues affecting the Air Force. Remember, as an Airman, you are an airpower enabler and advocate. Know your doctrine and continue to learn how to apply our capabilities throughout your career. Thanks again for letting me serve with you in the greatest Air Force on this planet!