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Document created: 1 March 2007
Air & Space Power Journal - Spring 2007
|Editorial Abstract: The ability to maneuver US military people and equipment remains a top defense priority for the nation. However, the author’s review of air mobility doctrine since 1990 reveals that America’s mobility capability has stagnated, despite the expenditure of considerable funding. The author proposes a new way of thinking, which he terms “effects-based mobility,” to appreciably increase global agility for joint forces.|
The maneuverability of the US military remains a top defense priority for our nation. Some may argue that we are doing everything possible to improve our ability to maneuver forces on a global scale—also known as global agility. United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) is increasing in-transit visibility of cargo and automating existing processes to meet joint requirements.1 The C-17 fleet is growing, C-5s are modernizing, and advanced cargo-aircraft studies are under way. However, an analysis of air mobility doctrine since 1990 reveals that America’s mobility capability has stagnated. This stagnation, termed the “mobility plateau,” diverts crucial funding from the advanced-development programs needed to maintain the edge in global agility. We can trace the origins of this plateau to fiscal constraints in the 1990s that forced leaders to shift investments from the development of advanced transport to dependence on a costly infrastructure of intermediate bases. Moreover, the global war on terrorism (GWOT) highlighted the limitations of this dependency, confirming the plateau’s existence. Advanced aircraft design may hold the key to breaking the mobility plateau, but our dependence on overseas bases makes this endeavor seem doctrinally unnecessary and too costly to pursue. Furthermore, mobility initiatives presented in the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) of 2006 may not provide the capability to overcome the plateau.
How can we break our costly dependence on intermediate basing and achieve greater agility for joint forces? With the goal of effecting a transformation capable of appreciably increasing global agility for joint forces, this article proposes a new way of thinking—effects-based mobility (EBM)—that provides a doctrinal focus on air mobility effects which will trigger value-added investments in the development of advanced transport.
As mentioned above, two occurrences gave rise to the mobility plateau. First, budget constraints after Operation Desert Storm forced leaders to increase airlift capacity by investing in intermediate bases and more aircraft rather than pursuing advanced aircraft development. This was not the case prior to 1990. From 1917 to 1990, the range of transport aircraft steadily improved, increasing from 600 to nearly 6,000 miles.2 Throughout this period of growth, such improvements enabled leaders to bypass intermediate bases and reduce overseas basing requirements by 77 percent.3 This period of growth culminated with Desert Storm, during which airlift forces moved over 540,000 tons of cargo and 500,000 passengers, using one or two stops.4 Despite the unprecedented achievements of air mobility during this operation, force reductions after Desert Storm stifled the development of advanced transport. Compared to the steady improvements that took place from 1917 to 1990, the range of military transports remained relatively unchanged due to the lack of new programs. Furthermore, several transport mishaps forced Congress to mandate safety upgrades on all mobility aircraft.5 Modification costs alone exceeded $1 billion. In 1996 the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology released a report on strategic mobility that found “no need to develop new operational concepts.”6
As military budgets tightened, Headquarters Air Mobility Command (AMC) focused on purchasing more C-17s and increasing throughput at intermediate bases. AMC measured total airlift capacity by using the million-ton-mile-per-day estimate, which incorporates factors such as number of aircraft, payload, speed, and utilization rate.7 In 1997 the AMC commander, Gen Walter Kross, stated that “Air Mobility Capability is dependent on an En Route System . . . comprised of people, infrastructure, and equipment located within the United States and around the globe.” Guided by this vision, planners implemented a “six-lose-one” en route basing concept, which utilized six en route bases in Europe for large deployments, with the flexibility to lose one base yet maintain desired throughput.8 In light of scant funding for advanced development, airlift capacity and intermediate basing provided a short-term solution for budgetary constraints.
Despite a larger C-17 fleet and an improved en route strategy, mobility requirements continued to exceed capabilities. From 1992 to 2005, air mobility supported over 42 major operations, ranging from small humanitarian missions to major combat deployments.9 At the same time, closures of European bases continued, eventually producing the smallest overseas footprint since 1945.10 With fewer overseas bases, AMC continued to rely on the “hub-and-spoke” doctrine for large deployments, where aircraft depart major hubs in the continental United States for smaller overseas hubs, also known as “lily pads.”11 Ground teams would then transload cargo to tactical aircraft and depart for in-theater or “spoke” destinations. Unfortunately, the closure of major bases resulted in overuse at the remaining hubs. In 1999 AMC programmed $1.5 billion for infrastructure upgrades at these hubs.12 This large investment marked an important shift in air mobility doctrine. Leaders were now convinced that throughput capacity would yield more returns than advanced concept development.
The GWOT highlighted the second major source of the mobility plateau because it exposed the limits of intermediate basing. In December 2001, mobility squadrons at Incirlik Air Base (AB), Turkey, and Rhein-Main AB, Germany, were launching approximately 10–15 missions per day, with little infrastructure to support US Central Command’s requirements.13 Although the 1999 Mobility Requirements Study secured funding for infrastructure upgrades, many projects were not yet complete. Facility and manpower limitations overloaded cargo-processing operations, resulting in numerous mission cancellations and delays. Although AMC had moved 882,609 tons of cargo and 1 million troops for the GWOT by 2004, the six-lose-one system required supplemental bases to meet throughput demands.14
In addition to the saturated system, large fluctuations in performance also provided evidence that mobility capabilities were stagnating. During Operation Enduring Freedom, C-17 operations in Germany, Turkey, Italy, and Spain experienced significant fluctuations in throughput. Factors such as airspace saturation, weather, overflight clearances, crew billeting, and parking restrictions resulted in daily launch rates ranging from 27 to 95 percent.15 Clearly, the six-lose-one plan did not meet agility requirements for Enduring Freedom. Faced with a saturated en route structure, planners established new cargo hubs to handle excess flow. Field commanders stretched resources to meet mission requirements, but overtasking resulted in fluctuations far too drastic to control. In July 2002, leaders at Rhein-Main AB discovered that a steady flow of 10 C-17 missions per day would prevent saturation of the local system.16 Consequently, mission output improved to 95 percent. However, the tanker airlift control center (TACC) directed an increase to 15 missions per day in August, causing increased maintenance workload for inbound C-5s. After leaders grounded a total of eight C-5s for maintenance, parking restrictions reduced C-17 output to just three missions per day.
A closer look at hub operations during the GWOT revealed important clues concerning the limits of the en route system—take for example the launch rates at Ramstein AB during Operation Iraqi Freedom in the summer of 2004 (fig. 1).17 Each bar in the figure represents the number of missions requested by the TACC. The black portion of the bar denotes successful launches, and the striped portion mission cancellations. On 10 August, the TACC attempted to increase throughput by requesting 12 missions. However, this course of action actually resulted in a decrease in output. On this day, airfield-operating hours, maintenance delays, and limited crew transportation led to mission cancellations. Just like the C-5 groundings at Rhein-Main, overtaxing the system lowered throughput. Mission requests beyond the maximum-output capability decreased output because the local system became task saturated. The limits of intermediate basing become evident when individual systems reach their maximum-output levels. Unfortunately, sources of performance degradation vary from hub to hub, reflecting an inherent difficulty in controlling the entire en route system. Current performance fluctuations indicate a saturated system.
The QDR of 2006 projects some increases in global agility, but evidence suggests that the mobility plateau will continue. First, the $1 billion C-5 modernization program focuses on increasing reliability rather than range. Second, the 2005 Mobility Requirements Study predicts that the current mobility fleet will fall short of the 54.5 million-ton-mile-per-day requirement.18 Third, the QDR recommends maintaining the C-17 purchase at 180 aircraft.19 Initially, this appears to free up funding for programs such as the advanced cargo aircraft, but it could result in cost increases.20 For example, the QDR proposes storing C-17 tooling to maintain production capability in the event we need more of these aircraft. Modern manufacturing systems, especially in aircraft production, rely on highly developed processes, advanced assembly techniques, and thousands of component suppliers.21 Therefore, reestablishing C-17 production would require a herculean effort. Since hundreds of suppliers would eventually go out of business, redevelopment would necessitate costly reverse engineering of system components. The fact that we expect intermediate-base improvements to exceed $1.3 billion by 2008 adds to the overall problem.22 Finally, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the Mobility Capabilities Study of 2005, which supplied significant inputs to the 2006 QDR, may lack credibility due to the absence of adequate validation of simulation models.23 Supporting the GAO conclusion is the fact that the Mobility Capabilities Study predicts stability with 292 intertheater airlifters, while the 2005 Mobility Requirements Study predicts an air mobility shortfall beyond 2007.24
In 2003 Headquarters AMC’s Doctrine Division summarized mobility performance during the GWOT: “Air mobility operations at current levels with the existing force structure will lead to long-term detrimental effects on the force (i.e., using equipment and resources at a higher rate than can be maintained, replaced and/or refurbished).”25 In short, extensive analysis of the mobility plateau concludes that (1) intermediate bases create significant drag on our ability to maneuver forces globally, and (2) crucial funding spent to maintain this system diverts effort from developing advanced concepts that have the potential to eliminate this drag.
Breaking out of the mobility plateau requires new doctrine designed to trigger increases in agility for joint forces. Technology alone will not solve the problem. Since 1995 the aerospace industry has developed vehicles capable of doubling the range of transports by using blended-wing body (BWB) designs and lighter-than-air technology.26 However, dependency on intermediate basing and budget constraints made advanced concepts appear doctrinally unnecessary and fiscally unattainable. Bridging the gap between restrictive doctrine and advanced technology requires a new way of thinking. In an Air Force Times article titled “Eleven Areas Where the Status Quo Won’t Fly,” Gen T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, stated that we need to “review how the Air Force organizes airmen and aircraft it presents to combatant commanders. Can we be quicker, more flexible, more adaptive and get there faster?”27 With this vision, mobility air forces have an opportunity to develop effects-based solutions to mobility issues and integrate more closely with the joint fight.
EBM would transform air mobility over a 10-year period by (1) focusing resources on generating effects in order to release our costly dependency on intermediate basing, and (2) triggering innovations that allow forces to bypass intermediate stops for large deployments. Gen Norton A. Schwartz, commander of USTRANSCOM, supports effects-based approaches to mobility: “In the end, it all comes down to people, leaders and public service. All of us need to focus on maximizing effect for joint forces. This is not about airplanes or ships. It is about responding at the point of effect for theater commanders.”28 EBM proposes a new doctrine that reflects General Schwartz’s vision and challenges leaders at all levels of war to break the plateau.
What is EBM? EBM is a doctrine designed to leverage air mobility systems to achieve effects that contribute to desired military and political outcomes. By synchronizing air mobility practices for theater commanders, EBM compels leaders to ask the question “Will this make joint forces more agile?” EBM can be applied to the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war.
EBM merges effects-based concepts with the operational art of air mobility.29 Air Force Doctrine Document 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, defines effects-based operations as “actions taken against enemy systems designed to achieve specific effects that contribute directly to desired military and political outcomes.”30 Although EBM applications may not directly correlate with actions against enemy systems, it recognizes control of complex systems as a key factor in mission accomplishment. At the same time, it requires leaders to consider indirect or second-order effects of decision making. EBM also provides leaders with nonkinetic options for creating effects on the battlefield. For example, enemy attacks on ground-based logistics convoys during Iraqi Freedom caused numerous casualties. To solve this problem, US Central Command utilized airlift to limit ground-convoy missions and generated direct-delivery sorties from hubs in Europe and Kuwait to austere fields in Iraq. Leaders carried out this task without any reference to EBM doctrine; nevertheless, this example illustrates how airlift can achieve desired effects. We should document and integrate such innovations into future doctrine.
EBM requires leaders to analyze interactions in the air mobility system and develop courses of action that produce desirable effects. The first step entails determining critical factors—aspects of a system that have the most influence on effects—which create the most desirable outcomes.31 In the ground-convoy example, air mobility generated desirable effects by reducing the number of ground vehicles traveling on Iraqi roads. In this case, friendly ground-vehicle traffic represented the critical factor that air mobility could influence.
After the identification of critical factors, leaders can exploit their characteristics to generate desirable effects.32 Depending on the complexity of the system, one can use tools ranging from statistical modeling to simple intuition to determine system behavior. Most systems in the air mobility realm can be analyzed using basic statistical tools such as normal distribution or standard run-time charts. Gen William Tunner utilized similar tools in World War II to lead the China-Burma-India “Hump” operations, even employing a full-time statistician on his staff.33 Although such personnel were not available at Ramstein AB in 2004 (see fig. 1), leaders did use basic tools to track mission performance and maximized output of C‑17s. For example, the staff analyzed Ramstein’s mission output by means of a simple bar graph. Despite the tool’s simplicity, analysis of system characteristics revealed methods for maximizing output. EBM tools provide methods for leaders to examine mobility systems critically and understand indirect effects caused by decision making. Tools range in difficulty from the tracking of simple linear trends all the way to stochastic processes used in simulation applications. Ultimately, such instruments will vary, given the capabilities of the leader, allotted time, and resources. Successful use of EBM depends on the leader’s ability to determine the right tools that maximize effects. A systems approach to military operations, EBM nevertheless does not always require quantitative techniques because it is also an art. At times, nothing can substitute for personal experience and intuition when it comes to predicting system behavior.
Figure 1. C-17 launch rates at Ramstein AB from 13 July to 7 September 2004.
One can best illustrate how to apply EBM by offering employment examples at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war. Air mobility operations consist of individual systems that provide output potential. To maximize effect for joint forces, operational commanders must first identify the primary output for these forces. For a deployed C-17 squadron, output is daily missions. To maximize output, leaders must first research and list critical factors that impact performance. A simple relationship diagram can be constructed to capture these interactions.34 Figure 2 depicts a relationship diagram that leaders at Ramstein AB constructed to determine critical factors impacting mission output in July 2004. Using the relationship diagram, leaders identified factors that had the most impact on mission output. Using the maximum performance rate (see fig. 1), they determined that crew transportation was responsible for saturating the Ramstein system. Therefore, these leaders decided to focus more effort toward improving crew transportation and acquired rental vans for arriving crews. Thus, analysis of critical factors resulted in educated decision making and increased output for joint forces.
Figure 2. Factors affecting mission output at Ramstein AB
EBM also uncovered weaknesses in the local system. Using his personal experiences, the detachment commander decided to focus on aircrews as a critical factor and plotted the number of crews on station. Using the maximum performance rate (see fig. 1), he tracked the number of available crews at Ramstein (fig. 3). The commander determined that from 20 July to 4 August 2004, Ramstein operated with a surplus of three C-17 aircrews, creating waste in the mobility system—a fact confirmed by his intuition because the time between missions for a given crew had increased to two days.35 In this case, the detachment commander reduced waste—defined as any resource in excess of the minimum required that generates effects—by moving surplus crews to a base with a crew shortage.36 Striving for effect, an EBM mind-set encourages leaders to determine critical factors, reduce waste, and maximize effects for joint forces.
|Figure 3. C-17 aircrews on station at Ramstein AB from 13 July to 7 September 2004|
Once again, we should note that EBM is also an art. Leaders must use discretion when choosing critical factors and tracking performance. Rather than burying organizations in metrics, EBM focuses efforts on the most influential factors that produce desirable effects. Leaders should use their knowledge and experience to determine three to five critical factors and then assess both direct and indirect effects. If analysis of the critical factor does not maximize effects, it should be discontinued in favor of another critical factor. During the Berlin airlift, General Tunner mastered the art of choosing critical factors that maximized mobility effects. For example, Gary Gregorian observes that Tunner developed traveling “snack wagons” on the flight line to keep aircrews closer to aircraft and avoid crew-related departure delays. By concentrating on effects, he increased the output of the mobility system.37
EBM is also robust enough for operational leaders to influence high-level decision making. Leaders at the strategic level of war may not have total visibility of indirect effects in the field. For example, how did the Ramstein detachment commander convince strategic leadership that a reduction in taskings would result in greater throughput? He simply presented figure 1 to members of the TACC and convinced them to support his recommendation. EBM provides tools for tactical leaders to communicate positive effects to strategic leadership. With a renewed focus on effect, EBM will guide leaders to focus on more ambitious goals, such as bypassing intermediate bases.
After EBM shifts our mind-set toward maximizing effects, leaders will advocate technological advances that bypass intermediate stops. Strategic analysis of air mobility starts with determining the primary effects that air mobility provides joint forces. Simply stated, mobility air forces are responsible for maneuvering armies on a global scale. Although air mobility can provide a wide range of effects for joint forces, time-to-arrival remains the primary effect used by mobility forces to influence the outcome of joint operations. Mobility air forces maximize effects for joint forces by minimizing time-to-arrival. The primary influences on arrival time are ground time, flight time, and aircraft speed:
arrival time = flight time + ground time 1 + ground time 2 + . . . ground time N
where ground time is time spent on the ground at intermediate stops and flight time is the transit time required for an aircraft to travel a given distance.38 Although flight time can vary, depending on the type of aircraft, it remains relatively constant for a given distance and speed. On the other hand, en route ground times exert a much greater influence on arrival time. Many of the factors influencing ground time (see fig. 2) are difficult to control. Therefore, one can best reduce arrival time by controlling the factors that affect en route ground time.39 EBM analysis uncovered ground time as a critical factor for joint forces. In order to continue the analysis, let’s examine the indirect effects that QDR initiatives will have on ground time.
Using EBM to examine the indirect effects of the QDR mobility plan reveals the possibility of a rise in sustainment costs. The QDR proposes throughput increases by recapitalizing existing aircraft, capping C-17 production, and developing a light cargo aircraft.40 However, the current basing strategy drives aircraft designers to develop aircraft, including the advanced cargo aircraft, that operate within the current en route system. Constrained by our doctrinal dependency on intermediate basing, proposed aircraft will achieve only nominal increases in speed and range. The indirect results of the QDR threaten to repeat the stagnation experienced in the 1990s. As stated in the previous section, intermediate bases can prove costly to upgrade and maintain, a fact that will divert crucial funding from the development of advanced transports. In 10 years, intermediate bases will once again incur repair costs with little improvement in global agility. Headquarters AMC also predicted approximately 165 percent overuse of the current air mobility fleet in 2006, resulting in more substantial costs for operations and maintenance.41
In March 2006, Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, reinforcing the indirect effects of current initiatives: “We are exhausting all of our assets at a much higher rate than we had previously forecasted, and maintaining this level with an aging fleet. Rising operations and maintenance costs are creating unyielding second order effects on our investment accounts in acquisition, research and development as a result of the foregoing must-pay bills.”42 Given current trends, indirect effects of the 2006 QDR will cost us billions of dollars for aircraft maintenance and intermediate-base infrastructure. With a 13.8 percent decrease in funding projected for 2007, the mobility system is not poised to improve agility for joint forces.43 Existing doctrine supports sunk costs and investments that result in nominal aircraft improvements. Consequently, ground time will continue to serve as a barrier for joint forces.
On the other hand, EBM uncovered speed and range as a strategic solution to the mobility plateau because they will allow development of aircraft that bypass intermediate bases. Industry’s current design studies propose semibuoyant airships (SBA) and BWB aircraft that have the potential to increase range by over 100 percent; furthermore, Lockheed Martin has proposed an aircraft called the global-range transport (GRT), which projects an unrefueled range of 16,000 miles (fig. 4).44 However, what prevented full development of this air mobility technology, which was available in the mid-1990s? As previously stated, the primary barriers were doctrinal in nature, resulting from budgetary constraints. But what does our EBM analysis reveal about the indirect effects of this technology?
Figure 4. Transport aircraft range since 1950 and industry potential, assuming payload capacity of 30 percent.
Unlike the results projected by the QDR, investment in speed and range produces encouraging indirect effects. A 100 percent increase in range would allow aircraft to bypass intermediate stops. Rather than relying on intermediate basing, an effects-based approach suggests elimination of ground time altogether. However, is such a plan feasible or even affordable? With a range of 25,000 nautical miles and a payload capacity of 500 tons, SBAs could relieve stress on intermediate hubs and eliminate intermediate basing for large deployments or humanitarian operations. These airships would reduce arrival time of a 15—vehicle Stryker Brigade Combat Team from 35 to 16 days.45 Additionally, the deployment would not require the use of tanker aircraft, thus freeing assets for other missions and enabling utilization of a smaller tanker fleet. The direct-delivery capability of the SBA would allow theater commanders to maneuver forces more quickly, without experiencing delays caused by weather and cargo backlog.46 This capability would also relieve stress on intermediate hubs and return theater distribution to manageable levels. Improved throughput at hubs would also reduce infrastructure costs for items such as runway repairs. Moreover, the existing aircraft fleet would benefit from extended life and reduced maintenance costs. With unrefueled ranges that exceed half of Earth’s circumference, we could plan flight legs almost exclusively in international airspace. Missions could weave through the Mediterranean Sea or proceed around the Horn of Africa. Overflight and basing permission would no longer constrain military planners. Employing SBAs would also reduce austere-runway maintenance and eliminate the need for extensive runway repair during disaster—relief operations. The survivability of SBAs presents some challenges, but current simulations indicate that they have substantial survivability.47 In short, focusing on effects releases our costly dependency on intermediate basing.
An investment of $4 billion in development would produce SBAs that could transform air mobility because of their potential for increasing agility and simultaneously reducing stress on the mobility system.48 Most importantly, we can afford this option. Operating costs for a fleet of 14 SBAs amount to approximately 43 percent of the cost of operating 21 more C‑17s.49 Compared to the QDR option, which allocates funding for limited increases in capability, investing in SBAs will yield greater effects for joint forces. With a new mind-set, EBM can bridge the gap between current doctrine and future technology—and break the mobility plateau.
By focusing completely on generating effects, air mobility doctrine will return to the enduring legacy of speed and range to achieve global maneuver for joint forces. However, breaking out of the mobility plateau will require specific goals designed to energize innovation within industry. With an EBM doctrine in place, leaders can build strategic goals that emphasize the generation of greater effects for joint forces. According to Brig Gen Richard C. Zilmer, USMC, “We briefed the Pentagon, Congress, [US Special Operations Command], and the [National Security Council] and were never thrown out. Twenty-five to 30 years from now, the idea is to move a squad-sized unit of Marines to any place on Earth in less than two hours.”50 At this point, one is tempted to dismiss this effect as unattainable. However, a closer examination reveals that the primary barrier is doctrinal in nature. Just like the period after Desert Storm, there is a temptation to rely on existing doctrine when funding is limited. On the other hand, use of EBM stimulates doctrinal change and enables new capabilities.
Benchmarking examples from Air Force space programs illustrate how EBM can be used to achieve General Zilmer’s effect. Lessons learned from the global positioning system (GPS) launch program illustrate this concept. Instead of specifying launch platforms, the GPS launch-program office specified the final orbital location of the satellites, leaving launch responsibilities to industry.51 In this case, McDonnell Douglas Aerospace opted to develop the Delta II launch vehicle and assumed launch processing and development activities.52 In essence, the Air Force focused on producing effects rather than platforms. This approach shifted performance incentives to industry, resulting in a 99 percent launch rate.53 Similarly, AMC can use EBM to stimulate industry to deliver similar effects. Well—defined effects provide a doctrinal framework for technologies previously thought too costly to pursue. In the case of General Zilmer’s concept, the desired effect triggered several proposals from industry. The Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently allocated $4 million to develop hypersonic transportation for small payloads, and proposed systems are scheduled for full development by 2018.54 Without defining air mobility effects, industry can only speculate on future requirements.
EBM bridges the gap between doctrine and technology, but it is not the only application of the doctrine. For example, air refueling has been a mainstay of air mobility doctrine for over 50 years. Although the doctrine is well developed, training pilots in aerial refueling can prove costly, time consuming, and sometimes dangerous. Current proposals to improve air refueling’s boom technology present only nominal gains in capability.55 Does current air-refueling doctrine impede technological advancement? To examine this question, consider a notional proposal to reduce training costs for aerial refueling by 50 percent. How will industry react to this proposed effect? Advances in composite structures since 1950 could enable industry to develop receiver aircraft that dock with tankers. Industry could also develop longer booms or fly-by-wire systems that require less precision by receivers to maneuver. Regardless of the solution, it is important to note that industry cannot explore innovative solutions without effects on which to base design goals. In this application, EBM differs greatly from classical effects-based approaches. However, the reduction goal of 50 percent provides a systems approach to improving tanker operations and shows how we can use EBM concepts to trigger innovation within industry.
Regardless of what mobility platforms will look like in 30 years, transformation of American airlift should be measured by the agility of joint forces and its ability to reduce arrival time. Merging current mobility doctrine with joint effects offers the best way to stimulate technological growth and return to advances in speed and range. EBM will help America overcome the mobility plateau and trigger innovations that restore growth trends experienced prior to Desert Storm.
Given the uncertainty of future conflicts, developing and maintaining the edge in global maneuver should be a top priority for the US military. Transforming American airlift to meet this challenge requires investments that increase the agility of joint forces. Unfortunately, data from the GWOT suggests that America has reached a mobility plateau. Nominal increases in capability, regardless of the size of the fleet or throughput capacity, will continue to divert funding from advanced concept development. Up until the 1990s, the speed and range of aircraft repeatedly overcame complexities posed by intermediate stops. However, in the 1990s financial constraints established a doctrinal dependency on intermediate basing. The QDR of 2006 suggests some mobility investments but falls short of appreciably increasing global agility. Without a course correction, we expect the emergence of a mobility plateau, possibly allowing competing nations to close the gap in mobility capability. On the other hand, implementing effects-based doctrine could break the plateau and trigger technological advancement. More importantly, EBM will reduce costs because it advocates investments that relieve stress on the mobility system. Leaders at all levels of war can start using EBM tools today. At the same time, merging EBM with existing air mobility doctrine will provide a basis for embedding effects-based approaches with joint operations. EBM will reenergize doctrine in order to focus industry on producing appreciable gains in global maneuver.
1. Gen Norton A. Schwartz, “USTRANSCOM” (lecture, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, AL, 20 January 2006).
2. The author analyzed the range of 20 major military-transport aircraft from 1917 to 1990, including both strategic and tactical aircraft in the study and assuming a payload capacity of 30 percent. The author chose this figure to reduce the sensitivity caused by factors such as power plant, specific fuel consumption, and flight regime. This technique is typical of design trade studies commonly used in the aerospace industry. See “US Military Aircraft,” Federation of American Scientists, http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/index (accessed 22 November 2005); “US Military Aircraft,” GlobalSecurity.org, http://www.global security.org/military aircraft (accessed 23 November 2005); and Daniel Raymer, Aircraft Design: A Conceptual Approach (Washington, DC: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1989), 28.
3. Keith A. Hutcheson, Air Mobility: The Evolution of Global Reach (Vienna, VA: Point One, 1999), 42.
4. Ibid., 26.
5. The author is specifically referring to the crash of a T-43 in 1996 and the crash of a C-141 in 1997. Considered separately, these incidents did not justify the need for all avionics upgrades on AMC aircraft, but together they persuaded Congress to commit funding to install the safety-related systems contained on most civilian transports.
6. US Department of Defense, Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Mobility (Washington, DC: Office of the Undersecretary of Defense [Acquisition and Technology], August 1996), 13.
7. Headquarters AMC/XPMRP, “Command Data Book” (Scott AFB, IL: Headquarters AMC/XPMRP, 2004), 14.
8. Paul McVickar, En Route Strategic Plan, White Paper (Scott AFB, IL: Headquarters AMC/A55, 7 February 2006), 4, 11.
9. Schwartz, “USTRANSCOM.”
11. Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 2-6, Air Mobility Operations, 1999, 44. (This document has been superseded by an AFDD carrying the same number and title, published on 1 March 2006.)
12. McVickar, En Route Strategic Plan, 21–24.
13. The author compiled this information from personal journal entries and notes made during a mobilization in 2001 as a C-17 aircrew member during Operation Enduring Freedom.
14. USTRANSCOM, 2004 Annual Command Report (Scott AFB, IL: USTRANSCOM Office of Public Affairs, 2004). In order to handle the tremendous throughput of cargo, we established en route bases in Doha, Qatar; Sigonella, Italy; Bahrain International Airport, Bahrain; Diego Garcia, British territory; and other locations.
15. The author derived this information by reviewing weekly notes and trends observed while performing duties as the chief of current operations and detachment commander during the GWOT. The author deployed to air mobility cells in Diego Garcia; Doha, Qatar; Rhein-Main AB and Ramstein AB, Germany; and Ganci AB, Kyrgyzstan, at various times from 2001 to 2005. Deployments ranged from seven to 60 days. The performance range of 27 to 95 percent was derived by assessing C-17 launch trends at each of these cells. The author acknowledges that the fidelity of data is most accurate at Ramstein, where he examined launch trends in greater depth. Although the trends observed at other cells carried slightly less fidelity, the author considered the information significant enough to conclude that intermediate bases experience large fluctuations in performance during the GWOT.
16. The “contract” flow of 10 missions per day caused frequent frustration with operations officers in the tanker airlift control center. Numerous attempts by the center to gain approval from higher authorities for additional missions often overtaxed the Rhein-Main system, resulting in less throughput.
17. Previous experience from operations at Rhein-Main led the author to examine the “saturation point” of C-17 operations at Ramstein. In order to establish system trends, the author attempted to develop a predictive approach often used in industrial-engineering applications such as statistical process control and queing theory.
18. Mark F. Johnston, “Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Future Systems” (presentation to the Air University chapter of the Airlift Tanker Association, Maxwell AFB, AL, 26 January 2006).
19. Quadrennial Defense Review Report (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 6 February 2006), 54, http://www .defenselink.mil/qdr/report/Report20060203.pdf#search=%22%22Quadrennial%20Defense%20Review%20Report %22%202006%22.
20. Ibid., 53–55.
21. Serope Kalpakjian, Manufacturing Processes for Engineering Materials (Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley, 1997), 20.
22. McVickar, En Route Strategic Plan, 15, 22.
23. The Department of Defense concurred with the findings of the US GAO report, which concluded that the simulations used in the Mobility Capabilities Study were completed with legacy models that may not have been adequately validated. Defense Transportation: Opportunities Exist to Enhance the Credibility of the Current and Future Mobility Capabilities Studies, GAO-05-659R (Washington, DC: GAO, 14 September 2005), 2, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05659r.pdf#search=%22%22defense%20transportation%3A%20opportunities%20exist%22%22.
24. Johnston, “Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.”
25. Maj Whit Canfield, Background Paper on Operational Control (OPCON) of MAF Forces, White Paper (Scott AFB, IL: Headquarters AMC/A54, 23 August 2005), 1.
26. See James M. Snead, “Global Air Mobility and Persistent Airpower Operations,” Air and Space Power Journal 18, no. 3 (Fall 2004), http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/apj04/fal04/fal04.pdf.
27. Quoted in Bruce Rolfson, “Eleven Areas Where the Status Quo Won’t Fly,” Air Force Times, 3 October 2005, http://esc.hanscom.af.mil/esc-pa/the%20integrator/2005/September/09292005/09292005-13.htm.
28. Schwartz, “USTRANSCOM.”
29. See Joint Warfighting Center Pamphlet 7, Operational Implications of Effects-Based Operations (EBO), 17 November 2004.
30. AFDD 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, 17 November 2003, 98, https://www.doctrine.af.mil/afdcprivateweb/AFDD_Page_HTML/Doctrine_Docs/afdd1.pdf.
31. One can consider critical factors analogous to the concept of critical vulnerabilities—a term from effects-based operations used in center-of-gravity analysis.
32. Jeffrey L. Whitten, Lonnie D. Bentley, and Victor M. Barlow, Systems Analysis and Design Methods, 3d ed. (Boston: Irwin, 1994), 274.
33. William H. Tunner, Over the Hump (New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1964), 67.
34. Richard B. Chase, Nicholas J. Aquilano, and F. Robert Jacobs, Production and Operations Management: Manufacturing and Services (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998), 382.
35. According to the C-17 community, two days in between missions constitutes underutilization for a deployed crew.
36. Chase, Aquilano, and Jacobs, Production and Operations Management, 325.
37. Gary C. Gregorian, “Major General William Tunner: A Study in Creative and Innovative Leadership during the Berlin Airlift” (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, June 1997), 70.
38. Air Force Pamphlet 10-1403, Air Mobility Planning Factors, 18 December 2003, 3, http://www.e-publishing .af.mil/pubfiles/af/10/afpam10-1403/afpam10-1403.pdf.
39. US Congress, Options for Strategic Military Transportation Systems (Washington, DC: Congressional Budget Office, September 2005), 9, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/66xx/doc6661/09-27-StrategicMobility.pdf.
40. Quadrennial Defense Review Report, 41, 53–55.
41. The value rate of 165 percent was computed by averaging the overfly rates of the C-130, C-17, C-5, KC-10, and KC-135 fleet of aircraft as reported by Headquarters AMC/A4 to Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, AL, on 13 February 2006.
42. Michael W. Wynne, secretary of the Air Force (address to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Washington, DC, 5 April 2006).
43. Headquarters AMC/A4 reported funding information during an address to Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, AL, 13 February 2006.
44. For the projected range values for the GRT and SBA, see Johnston, “Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.” For information on General Dynamics Design’s (a subsidiary of Lockheed Aircraft Systems) BWB aircraft, see Snead, “Global Air Mobility.” The GRT, SBA, and BWB ranges were adjusted to reflect a payload capacity of 30 percent in order to provide a baseline for comparison with the performance of existing aircraft. This technique is typical of design trade studies commonly used in the aerospace industry. For trade-study techniques, see Raymer, Aircraft Design, 28.
45. US Congress, Options for Strategic Military Transportation Systems, 32.
46. Ibid., 38.
47. See Col Walter O. Gordon and Col Chuck Holland, “Back to the Future: Airships and the Revolution in Strategic Airlift,” Air Force Journal of Logistics 29, no. 3/4 (Fall/Winter 2005), http://www.aflma.hq.af.mil/lgj/Vol29_No _3-4_WWW.pdf.
48. US Congress, Options for Strategic Military Transportation Systems, 32.
49. Ibid., 42.
50. Quoted by Jess Sponoble, Air Force Research Laboratory, “Trans-Atmospheric Aircraft Demonstration” (presentation, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, 28 November 2005).
51. Mark C. Cleary, The Cape: Military Space Operations, 1971 to 1992 (Patrick AFB, FL: 45th Space Wing, History Office, 1992), chap. 3, sec. 2, http://www.globalsecurity .org/space/library/report/1994/cape/Capetoc.htm.
53. Edward Balkan, Delta II 200th Launch, McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Company Video Communications, 15 min., 1992, videocassette.
54. Sponoble, “Trans-Atmospheric Aircraft Demonstration.”
55. Christopher Bolcom and Jon Klaus, Air Force Air Refueling Methods: Flying Boom vs. Hose-and-Drogue, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 11 May 2005), 6–7.
Maj Ravi I. Chaudhary (USAFA; MS, St. Mary’s University) is chief, Operational Flight Testing, Headquarters Air Mobility Command Test and Evaluation Squadron, McGuire AFB, New Jersey. A C-17 pilot and aerospace engineer, he has completed assignments in space launch, acquisition, and mobility operations. Also, he has flown over 150 combat sorties from various locations, including tactical insertion of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division commander for Operation Anaconda, initial assault of the 101st Airborne Division into Afghanistan, the first convoy-relief missions in Iraq, and various classified missions. Previous assignments include chief of third-stage launch operations, Los Angeles AFB; aerospace engineer, Kelly AFB, Texas; flight-test engineer, Robins AFB, Georgia; intern for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama; deputy chief of wing training, Charleston AFB, South Carolina; and commander, Detachment 1, 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Ramstein AB, Germany. Major Chaudhary is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and a graduate of Squadron Officer School and Air Command and Staff College.
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University
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