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Air Force revamps AEF

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force will deploy Agile Combat Support Airmen under its redesigned air expeditionary force construct October 1.

The primary purpose of the redesign was to look at ways to deploy more ACS Airmen with their units and standardize dwell times across the Air Force as much as possible to present a consistent Air Force capacity to the warfighter.

While the construct was approved in April 2013 by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the first deployments under this construct will be October 2014. Under the revised AEF construct, installations will deploy larger numbers of Airmen from the same unit under a 1:2 deploy-to-dwell ratio for active component, ACS Airmen. The revised construct establishes an 18-month battle rhythm where an Airman may deploy for six months and be home for 12. This will allow wings to more effectively posture their forces to meet global mission requirements as well as continue home station training.

In the past, Airmen deployed as individuals or small elements via "tempo bands" based on their Air Force specialty codes. Those Airmen met downrange from bases across the Air Force.

"Our Airmen have performed superbly in their individual deployments under the current AEF structure for the last 11 years," Welsh said. "This new construct will facilitate even better teamwork and unit performance during deployed operations. I visited a deployed squadron last year that was manned by 81 Airmen from 41 different bases! While we've proven we can be successful with that approach, we believe the new AEF model is a more efficient way to get the job done."

While there are some other subtle changes, the most noticeable change to ACS Airmen will be a stabilized battle rhythm at 1:2 deploy-to-dwell ratio. Some Airmen will see this battle rhythm as an increase in their deployment vulnerability. Requirements for most skill sets have remained constant. However, those who deployed less frequently may be more vulnerable. Not all Airmen will be selected for deployment in their vulnerability window.

Air Force leadership has worked very hard to secure 1:2 as the standard battle rhythm therefore reducing the number of Airmen who will deploy at rates greater than 1:2. While this is the goal, there may still be some high-demand specialties that may deploy under a different scheduling construct.

"Previously, Air Force specialty codes played a large role in determining an Airman's battle rhythm and deployment location; the redesign focuses on aligning Airmen to deploy with their unit," said Col. Stephen Hart, the Chief of War Planning and Policy Division. "Deploying with members of their own unit increases continuity of work, allows our junior Airmen to deploy with their supervisor, trainers, and enhances the skills and management of wing missions."

According to Hart, there are benefits to the Airmen and to the service, as it allows the Air Force to better understand its available capacity and it allows Airmen to have a better idea of when they will be deploying within the given year.

For Airmen maintaining expeditionary readiness, it's "business as usual." Airmen should continue preparing themselves and their families for the reality of deployment, and ensure they are ready to go when called.

For more information on AEF battle rhythm and individual base dwell times, Airmen should contact their local unit deployment manager or base deployment manager.

(Senior Airman Jason J. Brown, 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs, contributed to this article.)

(Information courtesy of Air Force Public Affairs Agency OL-P)

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