New in 2024: Another year of deployment reform begins

by Tommy Grant

Air Force leaders continue to brainstorm a better alternative to the deployment model of the past two decades.

The brass says the Air Force of the future will consist of multi-squadron teams that train together in two-year cycles to become cohesive units, like the Navy’s carrier strike groups. Three of those “air task forces,” announced in September, will form over the course of 2024 and start deploying together in 2026.

Typically, the service sends one airman or squadron at a time as jobs open and needs arise overseas. Task forces could offer a more holistic, better prepared option for regional commanders and more predictability for airmen.

Those plans may be accompanied by even bigger overhauls, foreshadowed by Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall in the fall.

On Dec. 13, Space Force Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein — the nominee to become the service’s vice chief of space operations — said the Air Force may dismantle the nine major commands that govern the daily business of organizing, training and equipping airmen.

“We’re going to transform the entire Department of the Air Force organization to prepare for great power competition within the next quarter. … The Air Force is going to get rid of the [major command] structure,” Guetlein said, according to Breaking Defense. “Think about how fundamental that is to the way we fight today and the way we’ve always thought about the Air Force.”

The Air Force last reimagined its MAJCOM structure in the 1990s, when it renamed Cold War-era organizations like Strategic Air Command and shuffled the units under their purview.

Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.

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