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Air Force senior leaders hold contested logistics table-top exercise

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  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

This week, senior Air Force officials gathered to discuss strategy, policy and the future fight at the CORONA-South summit at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida, where senior leaders held a table-top exercise focused on the strategic risks related to conducting logistics in contested environments.

“All our operations are underwritten by logistics,” said Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “Our ability to rapidly move people and supplies is one of our defining capabilities and logistics sustains our ability to project power. This exercise clearly defined the challenges ahead of us if we are called upon to respond to a large-scale contingency.”

The exercise was based on a logistically stressed scenario derived from challenges noted in the National Defense Strategy. Participants discussed sustainment of forces actively maneuvering in Agile Combat Employment, defense and recovery from attack, as well as topics about expanding capacity within the defense industrial base.

The U.S. Air Force’s logistics capabilities are unmatched, yet exercises like these help leaders address future challenges, which will be overcome through adaptive training and tactics, key investments in logistics capabilities, and innovation from American Airmen.

“Credible military logistics capability is a key element of integrated deterrence,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. “As a member of the Joint Force team, the Air Force must adapt quickly to the character of a modern, high-end fight, and I’m proud of how the professionals from across our logistics enterprise are pushing to accelerate change in this decisive decade.”

This table-top exercise demonstrated to participants that in order to align with the Department of the Air Force’s Operational Imperatives, resilient basing, and readiness to deploy and fight, the joint logistics enterprise must pursue critical investments to ensure the Air Force can sustain the fight against any adversary in the future.

Critical investments include teaming with industry to equip forces with lighter, more mobile support equipment and partnering with allies to ensure combined efforts within the logistics enterprise and industrial base are synchronized and responsive during contingencies.

A large range of critical tasks are required to come together to keep the Air Force ready to deter potential adversaries or prevail in conflict, if necessary. For example, every combat sortie, Airmen perform hours of maintenance, test and transport fuel, build and load munitions, and prepare air crew life support systems. Engineers provide power, maintain infrastructure, and stand ready to extinguish flames or repair damaged airfields. Security Forces lead multi-capable Airmen to defend operating locations. Additionally, maintaining a fleet of aircraft and missile systems, which require periodic depot-level maintenance, relies on expert DAF civilian and contract employees who return weapons systems to better than new condition.

Findings during this exercise reinforced the need for leaders to retain a relentless focus on accelerating change across the spectrum of combat-credible logistics capabilities, which are the foundation of air and space power generation.

“Every commander should understand their logistical risks and challenges, because those are in-effect operational constraints,” said Lt. Gen. Tom Miller, deputy chief of staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection. “Logistics has always been a great strength of American airpower, and we will not let it become a weakness.”