U.S. forces enhance strategic flexibility through dynamic force employment

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FORUM Staff

Today’s multidimensional battlespace demands increased strategic flexibility, and the U.S. concept of dynamic force employment (DFE) paves the way for joint forces to provide it with proactive and scalable options for missions across global campaign plans and warfighting domains.

DFE is the force management framework to prioritize preparedness for war while meeting current demands in day-to-day operations. It emphasizes quick deployments and multirole Airmen, which enhance how they do business.

“Our strength and integrated actions with allies will demonstrate our commitment to deterring aggression, but our dynamic force employment, military posture and operations must introduce unpredictability to adversary decision-makers,” according to the 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy.

In recent weeks, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and U.S. Pacific Air Forces (USPACAF) have demonstrated DFE power projection through trainings aimed at expanding the capabilities of forces who are strategically predictable but operationally unpredictable.

The 94th Fighter Squadron deployed 300 personnel in November 2020 from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam over five weeks, according to USPACAF. Pilots completed missions throughout the area of responsibility and deployed across the Indo-Pacific to protect U.S. territories and deter foreign aggression. During the training, the 36th Airlift Squadron assisted in a hot-refuel operation by providing C-130J Hercules carrying an aerial fuel delivery system. These assets “demonstrated a strategically predictable, but operationally unpredictable way to deliver fuel anywhere in the Indo-Pacific,” according to USPACAF. (Pictured: Aircraft from the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force and a B-52 Bomber from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, conduct integrated joint air operations in support of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. The USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike groups conducted dual-carrier operations in the South China Sea as the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force.)

“USINDOPACOM is home to our greatest strategic competitors, near-peer capabilities that can influence events in the entire region,” a 94th Fighter Squadron flight commander told USPACAF, requesting anonymity for operational security reasons. “The 94th Fighter Squadron is demonstrating the ability to navigate the open waters of the Indo-Pacific. By bringing the world’s top air dominance fighter into theater, we counter that power and check the influence they can assert.”

DFE was also on display in July 2020 when a B-52 Stratofortress bomber from the 96th Bomb Squadron participated in a maritime integration exercise with the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike groups in the South China Sea before landing at Andersen Air Force Base. The B-52 flew the 28-hour mission to demonstrate USINDOPACOM’s commitment to security and stability in the Indo-Pacific, according to USPACAF.

“As we operate throughout the Indo-Pacific theater, our fleet units continue to seek out every opportunity to strengthen our capabilities and proficiency at conducting joint, combined, all-domain operations with our partner teams,” U.S. Navy Cmdr. Joshua Fagan, Task Force 70 Air Operations officer, said, according to USPACAF. “Some of the recent events bringing Air Force B-52s and B-1s, Navy aircraft, and our ships at sea together on shared networks in support of integrated missions have been good opportunities for us to exercise the joint mission planning and coordination processes that we depend on to operate safely and effectively out here.”

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