May 9, 2016 – General John Hyten, commander, Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), revealed his updated Commander’s Strategic Intent May 6. The strategic intent document serves as the overarching document guiding the command.
“The global expanse of our Nation’s international engagements increasingly demands that our Air Force provide Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power today and in the anticipated environment 20 years from now,” General Hyten said. “More than ever, AFSPC is called upon to deliver agile, integrated, and resilient effects in, from, and through space and cyberspace that are critical to fulfilling these strategic demands.”
The intent document outlines three primary priorities for the command; win today’s fight, prepare for tomorrow’s fight, and take care of our Airmen and our families.
Win today’s fight
“Every U.S. military operation across the planet, from humanitarian operations to full spectrum combat depends upon integrated space and cyberspace effects to accomplish national objectives,” General Hyten said. “Space and cyberspace are perhaps the most inherently joint of all operational domains as all Services rely equally upon the effects delivered, in, from and through these domains.”
According to the National Space Policy of the United States, “Space systems allow people and governments around the world to see with clarity, communicate with certainty, navigate with accuracy, and operate with assurance.”
General Hyten’s Strategic Intent emphasizes the importance of delivering integrated multi-domain combat effects, saying, “The effects that AFSPC provides the Joint Force and the Nation are not services. They are combat and combat support effects that open doors and neutralize threats.”
“Our nation expects AFSPC to provide the space and cyberspace contributions necessary to achieve agile information superiority. Agile information superiority is the aggregation of our multi-domain effects to control operational domains at the time and place of our choosing to push and pull trusted information to and from warfighters within a contested, degraded and operationally-limited environment,” said General Hyten.
“When we deliver actionable information on the battlefield faster than our adversaries, the Joint Force can out-think, out-decide and out act the enemy.”
Prepare for tomorrow’s fight
As outlined in the intent, potential adversaries around the world are moving quickly, continuously adapting to counter our capabilities and reduce the asymmetric advantage our Armed Forces provide. Their vigor in pursuing advanced capabilities and their strategic goals continue to transform the dynamics of our operating environments.
Recognizing this trend, President Obama’s National Space Policy of the United States of America makes clear the way ahead, stating “the United States will employ a variety of measures to help assure the use of space for all responsible parties, and, consistent with the inherent right of self-defense, deter others from interference and attack, defend our space systems and contribute to the defense of allied space systems, and, if deterrence fails, defeat efforts to attack them.”
In implementing the policy, General Hyten stresses, “No one wants a conflict that extends into space or cyberspace, but we must be prepared for when and if it does.”
“To preserve the space and cyberspace global commons we must partner to influence norms of behavior that preserve and improve the usefulness of the space and cyberspace domains. We must also work with the joint community to dissuade and deter conflict within these domains,” General Hyten said. “And finally, as a force provider, we must organize, train, and equip forces to project power to neutralize threats and defeat actors threatening the U.S. homeland, our national interests, and our Allies and partners should deterrence fail.”
The Commander’s Strategic Intent highlights the importance of multi-domain integration: the Air Force as a Service is moving away from stove-piped, cross-domain solutions towards fully-integrated, multi-domain operations. Space and Cyberspace assets will act in concert with assets from all domains to deliver combat effects.
“To preserve our domains and provide our contribution to agile information superiority, the command must organize, train, equip and operate for a fight that may extend into our operational environments. We must take an enterprise view that raises us above employing our individual systems and platforms alone and unsupported.” General Hyten said. “Secondly, we must embrace “resilience capacity” as the measure that informs how we experiment, prototype, design, train, integrate, and fight as an enterprise. An enterprise view and resilience capacity are the two critical concepts that inform how we fight through contested, degraded, and operationally limited environments to provide effects on the battlefield and respond to adversary actions on tactical timelines.”
Take care of our Airmen and our families
General Hyten also charges commanders with protection and care of the Air Force’s greatest resource – Airmen and their families – saying, “Trust enables leaders to empower Airmen to innovate, act quickly and decisively, manage and take calculated risk, learn from mistakes and rapidly adapt to achieve our shared mission, vision, and intent.”
General Hyten urges the command to maintain the passion, innovation, integrity, and courage of its predecessors, calling Airmen to rededicate themselves to the profession of arms as they face new and dynamic challenges in both space and cyberspace, stressing that Airmen, not machines, deliver effects to execute the Air Force core missions of air and space superiority.
In addition, General Hyten recognizes the stressors placed on Air Force families such as war, deployments, and budget uncertainty, and charges commanders to develop and maintain a Wingman culture that does a better job taking care of family members.
“To win today’s fight, prepare for tomorrow’s fight, and take care of our Airmen and our Families, AFSPC must increase our ability to operate effectively in contested, degraded, and operationally limited environments, and reconnect to our profession of arms,” General Hyten said. “To do so, we must increase the resilience of our enterprise and our people in everything that we do. We must view ourselves first as warfighters and Airmen, and continue to move fast.”
Access the full document: AFSPC Commander’s 2016 Strategic Intent.pdf