ACC to consolidate missions into 15th Air Force

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Air Combat Command this week will combine the missions of its Ninth and 12th Air Force into a new 15th Air Force, outgoing ACC head Gen. Mike Holmes said Friday.

The change will consolidate ACC’s fighter, rescue and command and control forces, Holmes, who is retiring, said in an online discussion hosted by the Air Force Association.

The 12th Air Force will be moved to U.S. Southern Command, Holmes said, and the Ninth Air Force will be realigned with U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Holmes said. The 1st Air Force will also be part of U.S. Northern Command, Holmes said.

Holmes said that the reorganization will allow commanders to focus on their primary tasks, Holmes said, and that other reorganizations in the past have helped respond to emergencies such as Hurricane Michael at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and the coronavirus crisis.

“We wanted to empower wing commanders and encourage them to take responsibility and give them more freedom to make decisions, down to their group and their squadron commanders,” Holmes said.

When Tyndall was hit by the hurricane in October 2018, Holmes said, 325th Fighter Wing commander Col. Brian Laidlaw had the authority and resources to take care of his personnel and aircraft, start the recovery process, and resume operations at nearby Eglin Air Force Base.

And as the Air Force adjusted to the coronavirus pandemic, wing commanders have likewise had the authority to make decisions that are right for their bases and people, Holmes said.

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“I’m happy with this refocus in Air Combat Command on pushing authority, responsibility and decision [making] down, and allowing our people to have autonomy, mastery and purpose in what they do,” Holmes said.

About

Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.

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