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Flag officers train for theater-level combat leadership

  • Published
  • By Carl Bergquist and Staff Sgt. Jason Lake
  • Air University Public Affairs
Eighteen Air Force, Navy, Marine and international general officers attended Air University's Combined Forces Air Component Commanders course offered by the College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education last week.

The purpose of the course is to prepare flag officers for theater-level combat leadership, with emphasis on air and space employment in theater-level operations. Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley and retired Lt. Gen. Jose Nico, former vice chief of staff, Portuguese Air Force and current NATO senior mentor, are graduates of the CFACC course.

"Every general officer in this course will serve in some capacity in the area of responsibility, and learning how air power leverages at the operational level is useful," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, CFACC student and soon to be Air Component Coordinator Element director in Kabul, Afghanistan. "This course is ensuring that I have the tools, education and training to succeed at the jobs the Air Force gives me."

General Kennedy said he needed the CFACC course because, as Lt. Gen. Gary North's representative in Afghanistan, he must have a solid CFACC foundation. General North is the current CFACC for U.S. Central Command.

"I think it is wonderful how well the Air Force focuses on training," General Kennedy said. "The service is very methodical about that, and Air University is a great resource. The way AU has pulled together all the resources needed is no easy task, but it has been done well, and the Air Force is getting a lot out of it."

CFACC student and British Air Commodore Mike Harwood said the CFACC course would help him prepare for his job next year as the United Kingdom Air Component Commander in Southwest Asia.

"I love the course because I'm getting some extremely knowledgeable speakers from all services," he said. "I've gotten a better understanding of air power and how to employ it."

Air Commodore Harwood said another advantage of the course is the relationships it builds with commanders from other nations and services.

"Relationship building between coalition partners is crucial because we may be in the same fight (in future operations)," he said. "While we may not work with the same individuals, we still understand that service or nation's ethos and culture. This approach is very important so that we can work effectively against a common enemy."

Air Commodore Harwood said he believes the United States military is "extraordinary" in its size and depth, but each partner in a coalition brings a special quality to the fight.

Maj. Gen. Peter Scheizig, commander, 4th German Air Division and CFACC student, said the German government is invited each year to attend CFACC, and this year he was chosen to attend the course.

"This is a great course. I've had some experience working for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Bosnia and Kosovo, so I'm familiar with the procedures of NATO," he said. "I was interested in seeing how the U.S. Air Force is dealing with this situation, and the procedures are about the same as NATO uses. Most participants of CFACC will go on to on-going operations in a war."

General Scheizig said the course had even more importance for him because 90 percent of the German troops that are sent to Afghanistan come out of his air division.

"They work in force protection, civil engineering and explosive disposal, so I'm very interested in exchanging ideas with those who have been there," he said. "A coalition always makes any operation stronger, and the experiences of other nations help."

The CFACC course is designed to fill a need created by the fact that most flag officers have not had a lot of exposure to combat situations as flag officers. The high-level perspective of war the course offers is only available through written works and discussions with active duty and retired senior officers who have served in combat positions.
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