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Air Force Staff Restructures to Improve Joint Ops, Communication

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2006 – The Air Force will begin retagging its staff directorates throughout the service this week to bring them more on line with those of the other military services and joint commands so it can operate more effectively with them to support warfighters.

The so-called "A-staff" structure will be introduced in Headquarters Air Force on Feb. 1, and all major Air Force commands will implement it by May 1, Brig. Gen. Keye Sabol, director of manpower, organization and resources, told the American Forces Press Service.

The concept is similar to that already in place in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, the Joint Staff and the combatant commands, dividing duties and responsibilities by functional areas, Sabol explained.

The new structure includes the six basic organizations that cross all service and command lines: A1 for manpower and personnel; A2, intelligence; A3, air, space and logistics operations; A4, logistics; A5, plans and requirements; and A6, communications.

In addition, it includes A7 for installations and mission support; and A8 for strategic plans and programs.

Also, in an effort to elevate the visibility and application of lessons learned throughout the Air Force, planners are introducing a new A9 function: analysis, assessments and lessons learned.

The Air Staff and major commands may combine these functions where they determine it makes sense because of size or functionality, but will retain the A-staff numbering system when doing so, Sabol said.

These new A-staff designators will replace the "two letter system" that's been in place since 1970 and varies at different command levels throughout the Air Force. For example, the logistics function at Headquarters Air Force is currently referred to as "IL," although different major commands refer to it as "LG" or other designations.

The new organization will help bring consistency throughout the Air Force and within DoD. For example, airmen serving in a personnel or "A1" functional area would communicate with their Army and Marine Corps counterparts in the "G1" or "S1" directorates, their Navy counterparts in the "N1" directorate or their "J1" counterparts on the Joint Staff, Sabol said.

These numbered designations go back to the early 1900s, when the U.S. military began adopting them based on a successful model used by the Prussian Army, Richard Baker, a historian with the Army Military History Institute at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., told AFPS.

Sabol called the Air Force's adoption of the structure an exciting development that will promote communication within the Air Force and with its services and joint military organizations.

The initiative is part of an ongoing transformation within the Air Force to tailor it to the needs of the 21st century and beyond, he said. "We have the best Air Force in the world, and we are trying to make it better," he said.

"Not only will this reorganization improve communication, both horizontally and vertically, but it will make us more joint and enable us to provide more support for the warfighter," he said.

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