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Constructing an Airspace Management Team for the Future Force

Air Traffic Services / By CW3 LeBron Elder Jr., CW3 Kristal I. Hoover & CW3 Raphael E. Lopez: In 2007 the Army reintroduced the Air Traffic and Airspace Management (ATASM) Technician (150A) into its force structure. Ten years later, the first groups of Air Traffic and Airspace Management Technicians are now shaping airspace management training, doctrine, and the professional development for future generations of airspace management personnel at all echelons throughout the Army. CW3s Elder, Hooper and Lopez provide the following key insights to help you effectively build and train your airspace management teams, avoid pitfalls in airspace planning and execution, and identify external resources available to make you and your airspace management team an effective combat multiplier.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Hooker form the 2nd Battalion Airfield Operations, 130th Aviation Regiment (North Carolina National Guard), points to the skyline as a UH-60 Black Hawk makes a landing at Harnett Regional Jetport, N.C., May 10.

Building Airspace Management Teams – CW3 Raphael E. Lopez
A highly trained and proficient airspace management team (at all echelons) is critical to the overall success of your organization and it does not just happen by chance! It starts with the development of an airspace control validation and verification program for your assigned airspace personnel. Airspace managers must integrate with all warfighting functions during the mission planning process and achieve proficiency in the execution of airspace control battle drills if they are to become an effective combat multiplier.

Your first priority, once assigned as an airspace manager, should be devoted to the development of an airspace management qualification and certification training program. This program is important in assessing the team’s airspace control readiness and in the development of a plan to achieve proficiency. Begin developing the program by tracking all assigned airspace control positions by MTOE and currently assigned personnel. Then ensure the section has the correct airspace personnel (150A, 15Q) assigned and address any mismatches. Also list all the required schools for your airspace personnel and track what schools they have completed or need to complete. Finally, list all required airspace control tasks (IAW FM 3-52 and Army Training Network (ATN) and assess their completion status (Monthly, Quarterly, Semi-Annually).

SGT Charity from the 3rd Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment sits in the rear observing as two soldiers from the 2nd Battalion (Airfield Operations), 130th Aviation Regiment, North Carolina National Guard, and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade communicate to an incoming aircraft during a combined joint readiness exercise at Harnett Regional Jetport, N.C., May 10.

Next, focus on scheduling formal airspace course attendance for the airspace team. Airspace control personnel must be experts in air-ground integration, understand joint and service airspace control doctrine, and proficient in the use of Army Mission Command Systems to be successful in the execution of airspace management tasks. Airspace courses (such as the Joint Air Operations Command and Control Course (ASI 5A), Joint Firepower Course (ASI 5U), the Air Defense Airspace Management/Brigade Aviation Element (ADAM/BAE) Air Ground Integration Course (ASI C8), and the new Echelon Above Brigade Airspace Control Course) ensure that assigned airspace personnel understand airspace doctrine and can execute these airspace management tasks in support of the organization’s mission. Mission command courses (such as the Mission Command Digital Master Gunner (ASI 5C) and the Tactical Airspace Integration System (TAIS) Digital Master Gunner Course) ensure the assigned airspace personnel can configure, operate, and maintain their assigned mission command systems while executing airspace management tasks within a command post environment.

Upon the completion of formal course attendance, the airspace team must focus on training and obtaining proficiency on required airspace control tasks. The ATN Combined Arms Training Strategies (CATS) lists the required airspace tasks for the ADAM/BAE (task 71-TS-6232), Division G3 Air (task 87-TS-7125), Corps G3 Air (task 52-TS-8125), and BCD Airspace (task 06-TS-7002 and 06-TS-7003). Leaders must include this training into their weekly battle rhythm and documented in the Battalion training schedule to ensure that airspace personnel are able to conduct training with minimal distractions.

Airspace managers must be involved very early in the military decision making process (MDMP) to provide updated airspace control running estimates during mission analysis, initial unit airspace plan that accounts for all airspace users (Fires, UAS, Fixed/Rotary Wing aircraft, etc.) during course of action development, and publish the airspace control appendix during orders production. This will ensure that all airspace concerns are addressed prior to mission execution. Airspace control planning and unit airspace plan development are often overlooked and underemphasized but arguably the most important airspace control functions!

Finally, rehearse and achieve proficiency in the employment of the TAIS and execution of airspace control battle drills. Your airspace team must be proficient in the use of their TAIS and how it interfaces with other mission command systems (MCS) to be combat effective. Leaders should ensure that all assigned airspace personnel are certified to install, operate, and maintain their TAIS. Coordinate with your installation mission command training center for monthly MCS (TAIS, AFATDS, AMDWS, JCR, DCGS-A) sustainment training. Ensure that all required warfighting functions participate in this training event and rehearse MCS configuration, interoperability, and clearance of fires battle drill execution.

Avoiding Airspace Pitfalls in Planning and Execution – CW3 Kristal I. Hoover
Even with a successful airspace-training program, airspace management leaders must avoid airspace pitfalls in planning and executions cycles. Let us dispel some misconceptions about airspace that many leaders, commanders, and users of airspace think and believe to be true.

Myth 1: The Air Force will take care of the Corps airspace. Airspace is used by all forces, and the hand wave thought “the Air Force will do that,” poses a threat to how we plan, train, and develop airspace management cells particularly at the Corps level. The truth is our Air Force brothers and sisters are integrated at the division level to support the Joint Air Ground Integration Center (JAGIC) concept to enhance the support of airspace management at the tactical level. They are not prepared, nor staffed to manage Army airspace requirements.

Myth 2: Airspace managers are not needed to plan Corps’ operations. At every level, airspace managers should be included in the planning and development of the OPLAN. As the Army prepares units through war fighting exercises to determine and validate a unit’s readiness, airspace planning has a tendency to be an afterthought in the planning process. Hand wave assumptions are made and generalized about airspace operations that are not conducive to effectively training airspace mangers or airspace consumers.
Army doctrine (FM / TC) designates the corps as the link between operational and tactical missions. Airspace at the corps level integrates tactical and operational airspace requirements into the theater airspace control order (ACO). Therefore airspace planning at tactical and operational levels become imperative and drive input requirements known as the unit airspace plan (UAP), that contributes to the output production of the ACO. The Corps airspace management cell is the conduit that ensures the ground commander’s airspace requirements are included in the ACO.

Planning for airspace is critical throughout all phases in order to ensure the Appendix 10 to Annex C (ADRP 6-0, OPORD Format) includes considerations for: Air Defense, Intelligence, Aviation, Fires, and Sustainment. All of whom are airspace consumers, and should be integrated into the airspace scheme of maneuver.

Myth 3: Ground commanders own the airspace over their designated area of operation. Ground commanders quickly make the assumption airspace is included with maneuver areas designated to them. Airspace planning and integration becomes imperative to dispel this myth. The airspace above is used as a force enabler to support ground operations. The lack of shared understanding to plan, prepare, or utilize the airspace in conjunction with the ground maneuver is an educational gap that must be bridged. An understanding of how airspace is coordinated and integrated to support ground operations will force commanders and staffs to view airspace planning as vital to their mission.

Airspace Management Training Resources – CW3 LeBron Elder Jr.
Developing training resources to enhance the performance of airspace management teams and identifying airspace management lessons learned to avoid airspace pitfalls during operations remains a focus of the Combined Arms Center (CAC). CAC is committed to developing and integrating Army leader development, doctrine, education, lessons learned functional training support, training development, and proponent responsibilities in order to support mission command. At the end of fiscal year (FY) 16, the Airspace Control Proponent Office (ACPO) was called in by the CAC commanding general and directed to address airspace control training gaps. Since that meeting, the ACPO has published a number of products, is continuing to work several efforts, and planning the development of future projects to be completed within the next two years. These products, efforts and projects are as follows:
The first effort completed was the revision of FM 3-52, Airspace Control. The field manual contained a number of updates; one in particular was in regards to the JAGIC. This manual was published October 2016 and can be downloaded from the Army Publishing Directorate (APD) site (http://www.apd.army.mil) and the Central Army Registry (CAR) site (https://atiam.train.army.mil/catalog/dashboard).

The JAGIC Handbook was published by the Center for Army Lessons Learned and is a guide for commanders and staffs on how to organize, plan, prepare and execute their JAGIC based on best practices and lessons learned from past exercises and real-world operations. JAGIC Handbook No. 17-04 was published January 2017 and can be downloaded from the CALL website (https://call2.army.mil/toc.aspx?document=7448) and the MilBook Airspace Control Forum (https://www.milsuite.mil/book/docs/DOC-342211).

Under the guidance of CAC-Training, the Army Joint Support Team (AJST) developed a JAGIC Mobile Training Team (MTT) to deliver training support prior to a division’s command post exercise (CPX) in preparation for their Mission Command Training Program Warfighter exercise. The AJST led MTT is comprised of AJST, Fires Center of Excellence, and Air Combat Command personnel.

The Echelons Above Brigade (EAB) Airspace Course was developed (also by AJST) to be a resident course for joint staff members conducting airspace control operations at echelons above brigade. The ten-day course is conducted at Hurlburt Field, FL, and offers classroom instruction and practical application utilizing all systems available within a JAGIC. The course is also being designed for Army service members to be awarded an ASI upon successful completion (estimated approval FY19).

The JAGIC Systems Handbook is an electronic collection of techniques and procedures to help enable joint service members to pass, receive and post information within the JAGIC. This web-based document is available on the MilBook Airspace Control Forum (https://www.milsuite.mil/book/docs/DOC-360525). Users with recommended changes or new techniques can contact the ACPO and as changes/additions are received, the document will be updated.

The JAGIC Training Support Package (TSP) was one of the first efforts developed to address training gaps. The JAGIC TSP was developed to assist staff members to be adaptive, confident, and capable of performing air integration operations at EABs. The TSP was published June 2017 and can be found on CAR (https://atiam.train.army.mil/catalog-ws/view/100.ATSC/D4921D58-8416-4B9F-BE5C-F5F06CF1D4EA-1499715680959/150-ASC-1000v_11.htm) and on the MilBook Airspace Control Forum (https://www.milsuite.mil/book/docs/DOC-389393).
ATP 3-91.1, the JAGIC Revision will reflect more current best practices and lessons learned. The ATP rewrite will begin October 2017, with an estimated completion of 4th Quarter FY18.

CW3 Raphael E. Lopez is an ATASM Technician with 21 years of Air Traffic Control service who is currently serving as the 1st Cavalry Division G3 Aviation Airspace Management Officer at Ft. Hood, TX. He has three deployments to include Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

CW3 Kristal Hoover is an ATASM Technician currently assigned to the 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group at Ft. Rucker, AL. She has been a part of the Air Traffic Services/Airspace community for over 20 years. She has deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Inherent Resolve.

CW3 LeBron Elder, Jr. is an ATASM Technician working in Air Traffic Control, Airfield Management and Airspace Control for over 16 years and currently serving as a Mission Command Project Officer for the Airspace Control Proponent Office at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. He has three deployments to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom, and to humanitarian relief operations in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Hooker form the 2nd Battalion Airfield Operations, 130th Aviation Regiment (North Carolina National Guard), points to the skyline as a UH-60 Black Hawk makes a landing at Harnett Regional Jetport, N.C., May 10. / ALL PHOTOS BY SGT STEVEN GALIMORE

SGT Charity from the 3rd Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment sits in the rear observing as two soldiers from the 2nd Battalion (Airfield Operations), 130th Aviation Regiment, North Carolina National Guard, and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade communicate to an incoming aircraft during a combined joint readiness exercise at Harnett Regional Jetport, N.C., May 10.

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