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Air Force Materiel Command
Headquarters: Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
AFMC delivers war-winning technology, acquisition support, sustainment and expeditionary capabilities to the warfighter. AFMC conducts research, development, and test and evaluation, and provides acquisition management services and logistics support necessary to keep Air Force weapon systems ready for war.
Air Force Space Command
Headquarters: Peterson AFB, Colorado
AFSPC is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping mission-ready space and cyberspace forces and capabilities for North American Aerospace Defense Command, US Strategic Command, and other combatant commands world-wide.
AFSPC oversees Air Force network operations to provide capabilities in, through and from cyberspace; manages a global network of satellites, and is responsible for space system development and acquisition. It executes spacelift to launch satellites with a variety of expendable launch systems and operates them to provide space capabilities in support of combatant commanders around the clock. It provides positioning, navigation, timing, communications, missile warning, weather and intelligence warfighting support.
AFSPC personnel operate sensors that provide direct attack warning and assessment to US Strategic Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. The command develops, acquires, fields, operates and sustains space systems and fields and sustains cyber systems.
Air Force Reserve Command
Headquarters: Robins AFB, Georgia
AFRC provides the Air Force about 20 percent of its capability with only about 4 percent of the total Air Force budget, while spanning a wide variety of missions. It conducts fixedwing aerial spray missions, flies hurricane hunter missions for the National Weather Service, and is administratively responsible for the Air Force’s individual mobilization augmentee program.
Air Education and Training Command
Headquarters: Randolph AFB, Texas
AETC develops America’s Airmen today, for tomorrow. With a vision to deliver unrivaled air, space and cyberspace education and training, the command recruits Airmen and provides basic military training, initial and advanced technical training, flying training, medical training, space and missile training, cyber training, and professional military and degree-granting professional education. The command also conducts joint, readiness and Air Force security assistance training.
AETC sustains the combat capability of the operational Air Force with highly-trained and motivated Airmen, recalls individual ready reservists, and manages mobility and contingency tasking support for combatant commanders.
Pacific Air Force
Headquarters: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
PACAF provides Pacific Command integrated expeditionary Air Force capabilities to defend the homeland, promote stability, dissuade/deter aggression, and swiftly defeat enemies.
PACAF organizes, trains, equips, and maintains resources prepared to conduct a broad spectrum of air operations—from humanitarian relief to decisive combat employment—in DoD’s largest area of responsibility.
PACAF also conducts multinational exercises and hosts international exchange events to foster partnerships for regional security and stability
Air Combat Command (ACC)
Headquarters: Langley AFB, Virginia ACC organizes, trains, equips and deploys combat ready forces to support combatant commanders around the globe. Additionally, ACC provides the air component headquarters to US Northern, Southern and Central commands and supports the in-place air components of US European and Pacific commands. ACC also provides air defense forces to North American Aerospace Defense Command. To accomplish the objectives of the National Defense Strategy, the command operates fighter; attack; bomber; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; combat search and rescue; battle-management; electroniccombat and unmanned aircraft system platforms. In addition, ACC conducts information operations and provides command, control, communications and intelligence systems to theater commanders and combat forces
Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC)
Headquarters: Barksdale AFB, Louisiana
Activated Aug. 7, 2009, Air Force Global Strike Command is the Air Force’s newest command.
AFGSC develops and provides combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations—safe, secure, effective—to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders.
AFGSC is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping the Air Force’s three intercontinental ballistic missile wings, two B-52 Stratofortress wings and the only B-2 Spirit wing. The three weapons systems make up two-thirds of the nation’s strategic nuclear triad by providing the land-based and airborne nuclear deterrent forces.
Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC)
Headquarters: Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
AFMC delivers war-winning technology, acquisition support, sustainment and expeditionary capabilities to the warfighter.
AFMC conducts research, development, and test and evaluation, and provides acquisition management services and logistics support necessary to keep Air Force weapon systems ready for war.
Air Mobility Command (AMC)
Headquarters: Scott AFB, Illinois
AMC provides airlift and aerial refueling for all of America’s armed forces. They also provide aeromedical evacuation and Global Reach Laydown (GRL). GRL strategy uses resources from various organizations and brings them together to form those deployed organizations required to achieve the specific objectives of any particular mobility operation. These resources are also used to expand already existing AMC presence or establish AMC presence and infrastructure where none exists.
Additionally, AMC has many special-duty and operational support aircraft and plays a crucial role in providing humanitarian support at home and around the world
US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE)
Headquarters: Ramstein Air Base, Germany
USAFE executes the US European Command mission with forward-based air power to provide forces for global operations, ensure strategic access, assure allies, deter aggression and build partnerships.
USAFE builds and maintains partnerships, promotes regional stability, provides forces for global operations, supports combatant command missions, develops and care for Airmen and their families, sustains forward-based infrastructure, ensures strategic access to US forces, assure allies and deter aggression
Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)
Headquarters: Hurlburt Field, Florida
AFSOC is responsible to US Special Operations Command for the readiness of Air Force special operations forces to conduct the war on terrorism and to disrupt, defeat and destroy terrorist networks that threaten the United States, its citizens and interests worldwide.
The command’s mission areas include shaping and stability operations; battlefield air operations; information operations; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; specialized air and space mobility; precision engagement and agile combat support
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)
The JCS consists of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS); the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (VCJCS); the Chief of Staff, US Army; the Chief of Naval Operations; the Chief of Staff, US Air Force; and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The Joint Staff supports the JCS and constitutes the immediate military staff of the SecDef.8
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is the principal military advisor to the President, the NSC, and the SecDef.9 The other members of the JCS provide advice when the President, the NSC, or the SecDef requests such advice and may submit to the CJCS advice or an opinion in disagreement with, or in addition to, the advice or opinion presented by the CJCS.10
The Commandant of the Coast Guard may be invited by the CJCS or the Service Chiefs to participate in meetings or to discuss matters of mutual interest to the Coast Guard and the other Services
A combatant command is a command with a broad continuing mission under a single commander and composed of significant assigned components of two or more Military Departments that is established and so designated by the President, through the SecDef with the advice and assistance of the CJCS.16 The commander of a combatant command is referred to as the combatant commander (CCDR). Combatant command (command authority) provides full authority to organize and employ commands and forces as the combatant commander considers necessary to accomplish assigned missions. Operational control is inherent in combatant command. This command authority is also called COCOM.17
Combatant commands are established in the Unified Command Plan (UCP) by the president, through the SecDef and with the advice and assistance of the CJCS. The UCP is a classified document that sets forth basic guidance to all CCDRs; establishes their missions, responsibilities, and force structure; delineates the general geographical area of responsibility for geographic combatant commanders (GCCs); and specifies functional responsibilities for functional combatant commanders (FCCs).18 Common functions of a CCDR are shown in Figure 2.
Subordinate Unified Commands
When authorized by the SecDef through the CJCS, commanders of combatant commands may establish subordinate unified commands (also called sub-unified commands) to conduct operations on a continuing basis in accordance with the criteria set forth for unified commands.19
Joint Task Force (JTF
A JTF is established when the mission has a specific limited objective. It is a joint force that is constituted and so designated by the SecDef, a CCDR, a subordinate unified CDR, or an existing JTF CDR. A JTF may be established on a geographical area or functional basis when the mission has a specific limited objective and does not require overall centralized control of logistics. The proper authority dissolves a JTF when the purpose for which it was created has been achieved or when it is no longer required.20
Joint Force Commander (JFC)
JFC is a general term applied to a CCDR, sub-unified commander, or JTF commander authorized to exercise combatant command (command authority) or operational control over a joint force.
Service Component Commands
A Service component command, assigned to a CCDR, consists of a Service component CDR and the Service forces (such as individuals, units, detachments, and organizations, including the support forces) that have been assigned to that CCDR. Service component CDRs have responsibilities that derive from their roles in fulfilling the Services’ support function. The JFC also may conduct operations through the Service component CDRs.22
Functional Component Commands
CCDRs and CDRs of subordinate unified commands and JFCs have the authority to establish functional component commands to control military operations. JFCs may decide to establish a functional component command to integrate planning; reduce their span of control; and/or significantly improve combat efficiency, information flow, unity of effort, weapon systems management, component interaction, or control over the scheme of maneuver.23
Combat Support Agencies (CSA)
In addition to the previously mentioned Services, a number of DoD agencies provide combat support or combat service support to joint forces and are designated as combat support agencies (CSAs). Included among CSAs are the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and National Security Agency (NSA). These CSAs provide CCDRs specialized support and operate in a supporting role. Executive authority over these CSAs resides with the SecDef.24
There are currently nine combatant commands—six are geographically organized and three are functionally organized.25
Functionally Organized Combatant Commands
- Geographically Organized Combatant Commands:
- -US Africa Command (USAFRICOM)
- -US Central Command (USCENTCOM)
- -US European Command (USEUCOM)
- -US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM)
- -US Pacific Command (USPACOM)
- -US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)
- -US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
- -US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM)
- -US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)
Geographic Combatant Commands
GCCs are assigned a geographic Area of Responsibility (AOR) within which their missions are accomplished with assigned and/or attached forces. Specific responsibilities of each GCC vary but all GCCs are responsible to: deter attacks against the United States, its territories, possessions and bases, and employ appropriate force should deterrence fail; and carry out assigned missions and tasks and plan for and execute military operations, as directed, in support of strategic guidance;
US Africa Command (USAFRICOM)
Headquarters: Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany
USAFRICOM is responsible for US military relations with 53 African countries, including the islands of Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe, along with the Indian Ocean islands of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles. US Central Command maintains its traditional relationship with Egypt, though USAFRICOM coordinates with Egypt on issues relating to Africa security.
USAFRICOM better enables DoD to work with other elements of the US government and others to achieve a more stable environment where political and economic growth can take place. USAFRICOM is committed to supporting US government objectives through the delivery and sustainment of effective security cooperation programs that assist African nations build their security capacity to enable them to better provide for their own defense.
US Central Command (USCENTCOM)27
Headquarters: MacDill AFB, Florida
USCENTCOM’s AOR is the Middle East, Egypt, and Central Asia.
With national and international partners, USCENTCOM promotes cooperation among nations, responds to crises, and deters or defeats state and non-state aggression, and supports development and, when necessary, reconstruction in order to establish the conditions for regional security, stability, and prosperity.
US European Command (USEUCOM)28
Headquarters: Stuttgart, Germany
USEUCOM’s AOR covers almost one-fifth of the planet, including all of Europe, large portions of Asia, parts of the Middle East and the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. The command is responsible for US military relations with NATO and 51 countries on two continents with a total population of close to a billion people.
USEUCOM conducts military operations, international military partnering, and interagency partnering to enhance transatlantic security and defend the United States forward.
US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM)29
Headquarters: Peterson AFB, Colorado USNORTHCOM conducts homeland defense, civil support, and security cooperation to defend and secure the United States and its interests. Its AOR includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles. The commander of USNORTHCOM is responsible for theater security cooperation with Canada, Mexico, and the Bahamas. USNORTHCOM plans, organizes and executes homeland defense and civil support missions, but has few permanently assigned forces. The command is assigned forces whenever necessary to execute missions, as ordered by the President or Secretary of Defense. The commander of USNORTHCOM also commands the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), a bi-national command responsible for aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for Canada, Alaska, and the continental United States. USNORTHCOM’s civil support mission includes domestic disaster relief operations that occur during fires, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. Support also includes counter-drug operations and managing the consequences of a terrorist event employing a weapon of mass destruction. The command provides assistance to a Primary Agency when tasked by DoD. Per the Posse Comitatus Act, military forces can provide civil support, but cannot become directly involved in law enforcement. In providing civil support, USNORTHCOM generally operates through established JTF’s subordinate to the command. An emergency must exceed the capabilities of local, state, and federal agencies before USNORTHCOM becomes involved. In most cases, support will be limited, localized, and specific. When the scope of the disaster is reduced to the point that the Primary Agency can again assume full control and management without military assistance, USNORTHCOM will exit, leaving the on-scene experts to finish the job.
US Pacific Command (USPACOM)30
Headquarters: Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii The USPACOM’s AOR encompasses about half the earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the US to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole. USPACOM protects and defends, in concert with other US Government agencies, the territory of the United States, its people, and its interests. With allies and partners, USPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Asia-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression, and, when necessary, fighting to win. This approach is based on partnership, presence, and military readiness.
US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)31
Headquarters: Miami, Florida USSOUTHCOM is responsible for providing contingency planning, operations, and security cooperation for Central and South America, the Caribbean (except US commonwealths, territories, and possessions), Cuba; as well as for the force protection of US military resources at these locations. SOUTHCOM is also responsible for ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal and canal area.
Functional Combatant Commands
CCs support (or can be supported by) GCCs or may conduct assigned missions independently. Primary responsibilities of the three FCCs are as follows:
US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)32
Headquarters: MacDill AFB, Florida The USSOCOM is the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Commands of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps of the United States Armed Forces. USSOCOM conducts several covert and clandestine missions, such as unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, psychological operations, civil affairs, direct action, counter-terrorism and war on drugs operations. Each branch has a Special Operations Command that is unique and capable of running its own operations, but when the different Special Operations Forces need to work together for an operation, USSOCOM becomes the joint component command of the operation.
US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) 33
Headquarters: Scott AFB, Illinois As the single manager of America's global defense transportation system, USTRANSCOM is tasked with the coordination of people and transportation assets to allow the US to project and sustain forces, whenever, wherever, and for as long as they are needed.
US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)34
Headquarters: Offutt AFB, Nebraska USSTRATCOM is charged with space operations (such as military satellites), information operations (such as information warfare), missile defense, global command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, global strike and strategic deterrence (the United States nuclear arsenal), and combating weapons of mass destruction
The Department of the Army
includes land combat, service forces, aviation, water transport, and space and cyberspace forces as may be organic therein, and shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained combat incident to operations on land, and to support the other Military Services and joint forces. The Army is responsible for the preparation of land forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war and military operations short of war, except as otherwise assigned. The Army is the Nation’s principal land force and promotes national values and interests by conducting military engagement and security cooperation; deterring aggression and violence; and should deterrence fail, compelling enemy behavioral change or compliance. The Army shall contribute forces through a rotational, cyclical readiness model that provides a predictable and sustainable supply of modular forces to the Combatant Commands, and a surge capacity for unexpected contingencies.36
The Department of the Navy
composed of naval, land, air, space, and cyberspace forces, both combat and support, not otherwise assigned, to include those organic forces and capabilities necessary to operate, and support the Navy and Marine Corps, the other Military Services, and joint forces. The Navy and Marine Corps comprise the Nation’s principal maritime force. They employ the global reach, persistent presence through forward-stationed and rotationally-based forces, and operational flexibility to secure the Nation from direct attack; secure strategic access and retain global freedom of action; strengthen existing and emerging alliances and partnerships; establish favorable security conditions; deter aggression and violence by state, non-state, and individual actors and, should deterrence fail, prosecute the full range of military operations in support of US national interests.37
The Coast Guard
a unique Military Service residing within the Department of Homeland Security while simultaneously providing direct support to the Department of Defense. As directed by the President, and in accordance with Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security on the use of Coast Guard Capabilities and Resources in Support of the National Military Strategy, the Department of the Navy shall coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security regarding Coast Guard military functions in time of limited war or defense contingency, without transfer of Coast Guard authority to the Secretary of the Navy. As directed, the Department of the Navy will provide intelligence, logistical support, and specialized units to the Coast Guard, including designated ships and aircraft, for overseas deployment required by naval component commanders, maritime search and rescue, integrated port security, and coastal defense of the United States. The Coast Guard shall maintain a state of readiness to function as a specialized Military Service in the Department of the Navy in time of war or national emergency. If specified in a declaration of war by Congress or if directed by the President, the Coast Guard shall operate as a Military Service in the Department of the Navy, and shall continue to do so until the President transfers the Coast Guard back to the Department of Homeland Security by Executive Order.38