COMALFCommander Airlift Forces (US DoD)
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Tenoso's comments that the addition of the tanker force to COMALF's responsibilities would have made his job impossible is a telling statement as to the amount of effort required to run the complete package of mobility forces in theater.
Tenoso, Desert Storm COMALF, and Brigadier General Rod Bishop are the only two people with COMALF experience during a major theater war and DIRMOBFOR experience in a large-scale contingency.
Recommendations were reflected accurately in the successful COMALF experience of Desert Storm; so why the change to a director from a commander?
Tenoso, Desert Storm commander of airlift forces (COMALF), and Brigadier General Rod Bishop are the only two people with COMALF experience during a major theater war and director of mobility forces experience in a large-scale contingency.
Prior to 1992, the theater airlift leadership role was performed by a commander, the COMALF, as shown in Figure 1.
[42] Although responsible for the theater air mobility forces, the DIRMOBFOR is not automatically delegated C2 authority over these forces like a COMALF. [43] For example, Bishop was the DIRMOBFOR in October 1998 when an airlift request was made to support a U-2 mission.
According to AFM 2-50, the COMALF is different from the DIRMOBFOR in that the COMALF is "nominated by the appropriate AMC numbered air force, designated by the AMC commander, and approved by the theater combatant commander to exercise operational control of the airlift forces assigned to a theater or area of responsibility." [47] Still under command of the JFACC, the COMALF had true centralized control of all theater airlift forces.
With the introduction of the DIRMOBFOR concept, centralized C2 of theater air mobility forces for contingency operations was taken from an airlift expert in the COMALF and given to the JFACC/COMAFFOR.
In essence, the command responsibility of mobility forces was taken from the COMALF and moved up the chain of command to the JFACC/COMAFFOR.
There are three lessons to be learned in comparing the roles of the DIRMOBFOR and the COMALF, particularly with respect to Operation Allied Force.
Regarding the comparison of the functional roles performed by the COMALF and the DIRMOBFOR, there are some similarities, but there is a big difference.