The Future of Command and Control

The Air Force is moving forward with the recapitalization of its E-8 JSTARS fleet, but the commander of the service’s sole E-8 wing told reporters Monday there is work to do in explaining the command and control mission to stakeholders in the Defense Department and Congress. “Command and control, as a mission area, is not well understood,” said Col. Henry Cyr, commander of the 461st Air Control Wing at Robins AFB, Ga. The Air Force’s small fleet of E-8s is the only platform that merges the operational planning level of war with the tactical execution in one place, Cyr noted. And, within that area, different branches of the military use similar terms to describe different tasks. “As we move forward with the recap of the first large wing C2 platform, we are finding confusion applies, not only within the military, but with decision makers, the DOD, Congress, and in industry,” Cyr noted. At the same time, E-8s have some of the highest utilization rates and flight hours logged of all of USAF fleets, and following through on a plan to replace them is something all services have a stake in.